Expressing feelings through music:

SOS Children’s Village Luxembourg expands educational and therapeutic support for children and adolescents

19th October 2022

Cathy Schmartz, former EMTC Country Representative for Luxembourg, recently gave an interview about her work at the SOS Children’s Village. The original interview was published in French at, but we asked permission to share it in English here to reach a wider audience.

Cathy Schmartz, music therapist at SOS Children's Village

Since April this year, SOS Children’s Village has expanded its range of educational and therapeutic support provision for children and adolescents to include music. Music complements existing provision, such as animal-assisted education, art studio and therapy, as well as individual support. The aim of these services, which are financed almost exclusively through donations, is to offer children and young people a “safe and non-judgemental place” where they can face their worries and fears, thus contributing to the healing of traumatic experiences.

We talked to the music therapist, Cathy Schmartz, who has been working at SOS Children’s Village Luxembourg since April 2022 and is responsible for raising awareness of music and music therapy, about the integration of music at SOS Children’s Village.

Can you briefly describe your responsibilities at SOS Children’s Village Luxembourg?

My work covers two areas:

Firstly, the organisation of our workshop series “Musek@Kannerduerf”, a leisure activity that we offered for the first time in 2021 with the aim of introducing children and young people looked after by SOS Children’s Village to the diversity of music; and secondly, music therapy support for children and young people from SOS Children’s Village.

What started in the summer of 2021 with a pilot project of four workshops supported by the Fondation Loutsch-Weydert has quickly evolved to establish music in the Children’s Village on a permanent basis and to include it in our support programme in an organised and sustainable way.

Can you explain what is meant by music therapy?

Music therapy is a form of therapy characterised by the targeted use of music to restore, maintain and promote mental, physical and spiritual health. Music is a form of communication and expression that has always enabled people to express their feelings. Music can do so many things and can also make so many things so much easier. A quote by Victor Hugo sums it up:

“Music expresses what cannot be said and what is impossible to be silent about”

Music therapy is therefore a form of therapy that enables non-verbal communication through the support of music. In this way, stressful experiences can find a place and a creative platform for expression. Space is also created for experiencing and feeling competencies and personal potential.

Children and adolescents who participate in music therapy discover new resources and sensations. They learn to express their feelings with their voice and their body and thus succeed in developing resilience and self-confidence.

Very importantly, I also want to emphasise that to participate in music therapy, you don’t have to play an instrument or have a musical talent. Everyone is welcome, as long as they can engage in this form of therapy and are accessible through this form of expression.

Can you describe your first experiences with the children and young people at SOS Children’s Village?

The potential of music in the Children’s Village is really great. There is a lively interest in music as a leisure activity, and a real need for music therapy in the lives of the children and young people.

In the recreational workshops this summer, for example, all the places were quickly filled. This shows that music is very popular as a leisure activity. The children and young people can give free rein to their creativity, work together in a group and thus feel a great sense of cohesion and have positive experiences together.

For the music therapy, I slowly approached the children and young people by offering some “taster sessions” so they could get an idea of what it was all about. Together with the children/young people and their caregivers, we evaluated whether music therapy could be a suitable intervention and opportunity that might help facilitate emotional stability and personal development. The currently available therapy places were filled very quickly, which shows the potential this area has at SOS Children’s Villages that can certainly be developed further.

Musek@Kannerduerf is a component of our educational and therapeutic support measures.  As Cathy mentioned in the interview, the aim of these activities, which are financed almost exclusively through donations, is to offer children and young people a “safe and non-judgemental place” where they can face their worries and fears in order to promote the healing of trauma. By offering these specific interventions on site at Kannerduerf in Mersch and thanks to specially trained staff, SOS Children’s Village is able to respond and react flexibly, quickly and without undue complication to the needs of the children and young people in our care.

The workshop series is financed by the Fondation Loutsch-Weydert and music therapy is offered thanks to the support of the Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte (The National Foundation of Grand Duchess Charlotte).

Cathy Schmartz 

Cathy Schmartz is a GML-R registered music therapist and a psychologist. From 2009 to 2022, she was a member of the board of Luxembourg’s music therapy association GML. Cathy has worked with children, youth and adults in Western Africa, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. She has a special interest in psychotrauma and intercultural work. She regularly teaches courses about the use of music in elderly care, hospitals and schools.