What are the benefits of Music for Children with Special Needs?
Music can be a motivating and fun way to teach all children, particularly children who have special learning needs.Â Music therapy strategies may be an effective way to stimulate speech development, provide organization for cognitive and motor development, and create a meaningful environment for socialization and leisure pursuits.
Cognitive/Academic: Think back to one of the first ways you used music to memorize informationâ€¦. most likely the ABC Song.Â Using a simple tune, you were able to remember 26 different letters in order! This demonstrates how songs work as a mnemonic device to aid in memory and learning byÂ
organizing information into smaller chunks, making it easier to encode and retain. Other examples of musical mnemonics include learning the days of the week, a telephone number, or the states and capitals through song melodies or chants. Another benefit of music in teaching new concepts is linked to motivation. A child who is interested and attentive when learning a new skill is much more likely to retain the information over time. In this way, music sparks childrenâ€™s interest in learning, and creates an optimal environment for long-term skill retention.
Communication/Social Interaction:Â Because singing and speech share many similarities, yet are accessed differently by the brain, music strategies can be used as a means to improve functional communication. Songs of varying lengths can increase the duration of a childâ€™s speech, while rhythm can be used as a timing cue to aid in speech pacing and intelligibility. Singing and wind instruments including whistles, recorders, and horns are also a fun way to increase breath support and oral motor strength. In the social environment, music activities are ideal for children who need more exposure or practice with peers in a motivating setting. Interactive strategies including music instruments and song games can promote social skills such as turn-taking, following directions in a group, eye contact, and cooperative play.
Motor Abilities:Â Research is highly conclusive in supporting rhythm as an external timekeeper for movement. Basic skill areas such as bilateral integration, crossing midline, visual-motor integration, or imitating movement can be targeted with rhythmic music or musical instruments. Recorded music is also an effective method to promote relaxation or provide auditory feedback to improve head posturing and decrease muscle tension.
Pacific Conservatory has 2 music therapists on their faculty:Â Olga & Marcella.Â Â Click hereÂ to read their Bios.
Musical Therapy classes or private lessons are customized to your childâ€™s needs. Â Call to schedule an assessment with the therapist to determine the best course for your child.
Tips for Success During the Class:
Attend every week, even if your child didn't do their home assignment!
Be on-time and quickly get your class materials ready.
Pay attention during the lesson.
How to Support Your Child Between Classes:
Reinforce class activities at home with regular practicing as suggested by your music therapist.
Attend a makeup class if you missed your regular class and one is available.
Check the online home assignment to make sure donâ€™t miss reviewing any class concepts.
Schedule short regular practice times that match your familyâ€™s routine: before/after school, before/after dinner, etc. Â Short, daily practice sessions are more productive thanÂ long sessions on the weekend.
Check the school calendar for vacation, recital, special event dates.
Communicate with your teacher via their school email: Teacher@pacificconservatory.com. They (or the office staff) will respond to all questions and comments.
Email or call the office if you will be absent.
Attend musical events in the community. Live music of any genre is motivating and stimulating to children (and their parent!)
Never use practice time as punishment for other misdeeds.
Brings all your materials. Keeps books and binders in your Pacific Conservatory briefcase so it will be easy to find when it's time to leave for your lesson.