We’ve heard that age old saying “music makes you smarter” which is loosely based on the “Mozart Effect,” theory. While music may not actually make you intelligent, it does utilize your brain to its fullest capacity. You see, playing and listening to music uses the largest percentage of your brain of ANY other activity by far! It’s no wonder that music is used to help people overcome traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, depression and so much more. What many people don’t think to use music for, however, is with large and small disabilities within children. When you listen to and play different types of music, the brain creates new pathways depending on if the music is major or minor (happy or sad sounding), in different styles, etc. These new pathways can then support new skills that the listener or performer may not have been able to achieve before. It’s absolutely incredible how music lessons or group music classes can help a child overcome small auditory sensory processing disorders or ADHD, all the way to more complex issues like helping a child become more verbal or make eye contact when they have autism. Here are 5 key ways that music can help your child with disabilities:
- Music is a Motivator! At times it is challenging to repeatedly work on the same difficult task over and over again. Music can provide a different perspective while working on the same task. You can also encourage your child by allowing them to choose which instrument they are going to work on or maybe what song they would like to learn. There are many ways to motivate using the tools in a music classroom!
- Music is a Multi-Sensory Experience! While some people may think that music is only auditory, it uses all the senses but taste! There is a tactile function of touching the instrument, the kinesthetic function of moving or manipulating the instrument, auditory functions of hearing the instrument, visual functions of hand eye coordination or reading music, etc. Music covers all of your bases for any type of disability and give students so many different ways to express the music!
- Music uses the ENTIRE Brain! It is mind blowing (pun intended) how much a brain can accomplish while playing music. The cognitive neuroscience of music shows that when making music, the sensory cortex, auditory cortex, hippocampus, visual cortex, cerebellum, amygdala, prefrontal cortex and motor cortex (what a mouthful!) are all firing at one time. This relates back to reason #2 where we explained that music is a multi-sensory experience. Music is incredible for connecting things across the body between both hemispheres of the brain.
- Music is Non-Verbal! I’m sure you have heard that music fills in where words lack and it is so true for people with or without disabilities. I have found that children can’t always express themselves and at times music can help fill that gap! If you have a child that is sad or overly frustrated sometimes they can get a large sigh of relief from accomplishing something new or mastering a song.
- Music Helps People Bond! At times when a child has a learning disability they can feel very secluded and alone. Music releases oxytocin in the brain which is also known as the “bonding” or “happy” chemical. Having a great connection with family members who perform music together or even have a great bond with a teacher helps that child feel safe and ready to take on new challenges.
At Valotta Studios in Chester Springs, we pride ourselves on being able to accomplish these 5 goals, along with many others, for each student that walks through our door. We pair each student with teacher based off of personality, learning needs and styles, and general compatibility. If you have a child with a disability, give us a call! We would love to help them grow through music.