6 Reasons Why Music is Beneficial for Children with Disabilities
Music is powerful; It has the potential to move us, boost our mood, motivate us and connect us with those around us. Science says that our body responds physiologically to certain beats; Music can help us relax, stimulate learning and improve our overall health by reducing pain, contributing to better mental health, improving sleeping patterns and much more.
What’s more, music plays a major role in self-expression and healing, and it’s beneficial both to those who receive it and those who engage in its creation. So, what exactly is it about music that makes it so special? And why is music so beneficial for children with disabilities?
1. Multi-sensory experience
Music engages different body systems at the same time. For instance, playing the violin engages a child’s tactile system because they are feeling the strings in their fingers, their auditory system because they are listening to the sound of the violin, their kinesthetic system as they move their arms and their visual system because their eyes track the motion of their arm and fingers.
Music-making sessions are important as they have the ability to create a multi-sensory experience and appeal to many of a child’s sensory strengths and needs.
2. Brain stimulation
Science shows that music engages our brains; Active areas will light up in MRI scans when someone listens to music.
Music strengthens the areas of the brain related to speech, language, reading, focusing, attention and concentration, which have been proven to be the weaker areas when it comes to a child with learning disabilities.
The repetitive elements of rhythm and melody help our brains form patterns that enhance memory. Studies have shown that when children with learning disabilities learn to play an instrument, their motivation, concentration, self-esteem and memory show signs of improvement.
Music is processed in many regions of the brain simultaneously, meaning that when making music the sensory cortex, auditory cortex, hippocampus, visual cortex, cerebellum, motor cortex and more are all firing at once! This relates to the multi-sensory experience of making music, as each of these sensory systems is tied into a specific part of the brain.
Music can cause the brain to release dopamine, a type of neurotransmitter which affects many parts of our behaviour, including motivation and goal-oriented behaviour.
Finding ways to motivate children to work and focus on challenging tasks can be difficult, but music-making sessions have been proven to help young people become more settled and focused, especially in stressful settings or situations. In particular, singing a song during a specially challenging activity will make a child more willing to work through it.
Hans Christian Andersen once said, “where words fail, music speaks.”
Music can play an important role in speech development and self-expression for young people who have difficulty learning and forming words. Being able to connect and express themselves without words can feel more powerful and effective than spoken language, and a child who might be reluctant to speak, may feel more comfortable experimenting with verbal sounds in music-making.
5. Social interaction and bonding
There’s no doubt that music is a powerful way of uniting people – think national anthems, nursery rhymes, love songs or lullabies.
Researchers think one of the most important functions of music is to feel connected to those around us, and science shows that when listening to or making music, our bodies release Oxytocin.
Music-making sessions help young disabled people to develop important skills, by providing a space for social interaction and bonding. By joining a group activity, children can learn to better communicate with their music leader and peers, as well as to take turns. These sessions are often important for the families and carers of disabled young people, as they bring them closer together and offer a break from the stresses of everyday life.
6. Confidence boost
The notion of self-confidence relates to self-assurance in one’s personal judgment, abilities and more. Music and the act of playing an instrument can be a great confidence-booster, providing an effective antidote to negative feelings people have about themselves.
Music workshops give children a chance to learn new skills and perform with the peers, bringing out feelings of self-achievement and empowerment.
Take a look at Naidex Junior here, Naidex's brand-new trail exclusively dedicated to children with disabilities!