Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32586
Using Music in the Classroom to Help Syrian Refugees Deal with Post-War Trauma

Authors: Vartan Agopian


Millions of Syrian families have been displaced since the beginning of the Syrian war, and the negative effects of post-war trauma have shown detrimental effects on the mental health of refugee children. While educational strategies have focused on vocational training and academic achievement, little has been done to include music in the school curriculum to help these children improve their mental health. The literature of music education and psychology, on the other hand, shows the positive effects of music on traumatized children, especially when it comes to dealing with stress. This paper presents a brief literature review of trauma, music therapy, and music in the classroom, after having introduced the Syrian war and refugee situation. Furthermore, the paper highlights the benefits of using music with traumatized children from the literature and offers strategies for teachers (such as singing, playing an instrument, songwriting, and others) to include music in their classrooms to help Syrian refugee children deal with post-war trauma.

Keywords: Children, music, refugees, Syria, war.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1322


[1] M. Macksoud and J. L. Aber, “The war experiences and psychosocial development of children in Lebanon,” Child development, vol. 67, no.1, pp. 70-88, Feb. 1996.
[2] W. F. Ng. (2005, Nov.). Music therapy, war trauma, and peace: a Singaporean perspective. Voices: a world forum for music therapy. (Online). 5 (4). Available: http://doi:10.15845/voices.v5i3.231.
[3] A. Thabet, P. Vostanis, and K. Karim, “Group crisis intervention for children during ongoing war conflict,” European child & adolescent psychiatry, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 262-269, Jan. 14, 2005.
[4] M. al-Haj and B. Tsacoyianis. (2014). Tuyoor al-Amal and Informal Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon. Syrian Studies Association Bulletin. (Online). 19(2). Available:
[5] “The Syrian Refugee Crisis and its Representation in Europe”, Sep. 2016;
[6] S. Culbertson and L. Constant, Education of Syrian Refugee Children: Managing the Crisis in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, Rand Corporation, 2015, ch. 4, pp. 1985-1990.
[7] J. M. B. Balouziyeh, Hope and a Future: The Story of Syrian Refugees, Time Books, 2016, ch. 8, pp. 194-197.
[8] M. Lefevre, “Playing with sound: the therapeutic use of music in direct work with children,” Child and family social work, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 333-345, Nov. 2004.
[9] R. Quinlan, R. D. Schweitzer, N. Khawaja, and J. Griffin, “Psychotherapy Evaluation of a school-based creative arts therapy programme for adolescents from refugee backgrounds,” The Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 47, pp. 72-78, Feb. 2016.
[10] N. Ugurlu, L. Akca, and C. Acarturk. (2016). An art therapy intervention for symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety among Syrian refugee children. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies. (Online). 11(2), pp. 89-102. Available:
[11] J. Orth. (2005, July). Music therapy with traumatized refugees in a clinical setting. Voices: a world Forum for music therapy. (Online). Available: http://doi:10.15845/voices.v5i2.227.
[12] S. Honig, “The Language of Lullabies,” Young Children, vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 30-36, Sep. 2005.
[13] L. Kelly and L. Doherty. (2016, June). “A Historical Overview of Art and Music-Based Activities in Social Work with Groups: Nondeliberative Practice and Engaging Young People’s Strengths. Social Work with Groups. (Online). Available: http://doi:10.1080/01609513.2015.1091700.
[14] N. S. Newcomb and L. Charles, “Music: a powerful resource for the elementary school counselor,” Elementary school guidance & counseling, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 150-155, Dec. 1994.
[15] C. A. Malchiodi and D. A. Crenshaw, Creative Arts and Play Therapy for Attachment Problems, Guillford Publications, 2015, ch. 5, pp. 74-77.
[16] G. Vines, “Middle school counseling: touching the souls of adolescents,” Professional school counseling, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 175-176, Dec. 2005.
[17] E. Leichtle, "Supporting Traumatized Students: A Toolkit for Teachers," master’s thesis, School of Education, Hamline University, 2016.
[18] R. Bright, “Music therapy in grief resolution,” Bulletin of the Menniger Clinic, vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 481-498, 1999.
[19] P. d'Ardenne and M. Kiyendeye, “An initial exploration of the therapeutic impact of music on genocide orphans in Rwanda,” British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, vol. 43, no. 5, pp. 559-569, Sep. 2014.