Music Therapy matters for people with special needs

Research Summaries

  • Preschool children in an early intervention music therapy program show high on-task behavior during sessions and a high success rate in language development, social skills, cognitive concepts, motor skills, and music knowledge. (Standley, J.M., & J.E. Hughes (1996). Documenting developmentally appropriate objectives and benefits of a music therapy program for early intervention: A behavioral analysis.  Music Therapy Perspectives. 14 (2), 87-94.)
  • Focus can be a real struggle for people with learning disabilities like ADHD and ADD, but music is being found to be a powerful tool to train minds. “Music therapy is using music to accomplish non-musical goals,” said Paula Scicluna, the founder and executive director of Rhythm & Rehab. “So, using music we can improve speech skills, language, sensory motor skills, cognitive skills, social emotional skills.” Music helps organize the brain, and repetition is key.  “Once you add that rhythm and you add that structure, it helps actually organize the firing of the neurons. Focus, attention [and] impulse control — all those behaviors that you see children with ADHD and ADD struggle with,” Scicluna said. “That’s how music therapy is helpful to those children.”
  • “I regard music therapy as a tool of great power in many neurological disorders-Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s-because of its unique capacity to organize or reorganize cerebral function when it has been damaged.” -Oliver Sacks, M.D. Professor of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.

TED Music and the Brain

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.


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