Music can be truly transformative for anyone, but especially for children with Down Syndrome. Research has found that special needs children receive tons of benefits from interaction with music.
The Nordoff-Robbins Centre, a UK-based center focused on music therapy, describes the power of music as follows:
“Music is an intrinsic part of all of us: pulse and rhythm are found in our heartbeat, our breathing and our movement; melody is created in our laughing, our crying, screaming or singing; the whole range of our emotions can be held within the rhythms and harmonies of different musical styles and idioms. These intimate connections with music can remain despite disability or illness, and are not dependent on a musical training or background.
Because of this, music therapists can use music to help children and adults with a wide range of needs arising from such varied causes as learning difficulties, mental and physical illness, physical and sexual abuse, stress and terminal illness. Emotional, cognitive and developmental needs can be addressed through interactive music making within a secure relationship offered by the music therapist.”
Benefits of Music for Down Syndrome Children
About 5,000 babies are born with Down Syndrome every year in the United States. The condition is caused by a “chromosomal abnormality” – these children end up having an extra chromosome (47 instead of 46). As a result, these children often have impaired cognitive ability and developmental disabilities. However, people with Down Syndrome are doing more and living longer than ever before thanks to modern research and science.
One of the most effective forms of therapy is music. Studies show that music lessons truly help special needs kids with proper development. It improves memory, hand-eye coordination, cognitive skills, social development, self-esteem, and more. Researchers say that “musical experience strengthens many of the same aspects of brain function that are impaired in individuals with language and learning difficulties.”
“Music is an intrinsic part of all of us: pulse and rhythm are found in our heartbeat, our breathing and our movement; melody is created in our laughing, our crying, screaming or singing; the whole range of our emotions can be held within the rhythms and harmonies of different musical styles and idioms.”
Motor Skills, Movement, and Coordination
- Rhythm exercises promote better coordination
- Improves muscle control
The rhythmic nature of music gives students a better understanding of movement and timing. Repeating tasks and working on rhythm helps them to improve their motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. If kids have a hard time understanding speech or saying certain words, music can help. It improves their articulation and pacing and allows them to better grasp speech from others that is difficult to understand. Good posture is also a common benefit!
Children with Down Syndrome sometimes have trouble with muscle control. This causes their tongue to stick out when they talk. Mirror songs allow kids to be able to correct this behavior. Sit in front of a mirror with the child and look at it (both of you). Start singing! The student can sing with you and use the mirror to copy how you use your tongue when you sing. This is an easy way that music can be used as therapy.
Social and Communication
- Improves communication and speech recognition
- Encourages social interaction and development
- Improves speech recognition
As mentioned above, activities like mirror songs can help Down Syndrome children communicate better and more easily. They can work on how to make certain sounds, whether with instruments or their voice and greatly improve their speech.
“Musical experience strengthens many of the same aspects of brain function that are impaired in individuals with language and learning difficulties.”
Music therapy offers kids with Down Syndrome better communication skills all around. In addition, group music lessons can give these kids proper social interaction, encourage positive social development, and increase their self-esteem. The structure and interaction that music lessons provide are extremely effective forms of therapy. Kids learn how to interact with others, take turns, and communicate. They learn how to work together to make music. This positive, creative engagement is truly beneficial.
Memory and Learning
Putting lessons into song is a great way to teach special needs children important information. Put numbers, facts, or letters to music and have the child sing along! You can sing about almost anything. Another great way is to use pictures with music. For example, sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and print out little pictures that correspond with parts of the song. Have the child put them in order as the song goes along. Hence, music therapy is a wonderful way to improve memory and other cognitive abilities in children with Down syndrome.
Lone Star School of Music Is Proud to Offer Music Lessons to Children With Special Needs
It doesn’t matter who you are – music can make your life better and brighter! At Lone Star School of Music, we welcome all students into our music lessons. Your kid will be perfect here! Register your child for music lessons today and start seeing the awesome benefits!