The Power of Music for Children with Special Needs
Music is a language that people of all ages, religions, nationalities, and ethnicities speak. It has been scientifically proven that learning an instrument helps children with learning disabilities, to increase their attention & ability to learn.
Music helps children with special needs learn to participate in different ways than the traditional classroom setting. Instead of speaking or writing, a child can use music to communicate their experiences.
How Teaching Music to Special Needs Children Can Change Their Lives
A) Music is Non-Verbal
For children with disabilities, words present an enormous challenge. Hence, they have difficulty expressing themselves. Music plays a key role in bridging the gap of communication and It offers more freedom of expression than verbal expressions.
B) Motor Skills
Percussive instruments are particularly effective in changing the lives of special needs students. This is especially beneficial for students who have sight limitations, allowing them to explore physical perceptions, while strengthening their coordination.
C) Music Improves Learning
Singing - Enhances communication skills & speech.
Rhythm - Improves and refines motor skills.
Memorizing Lyrics - Helps students better memorize academic material.
Music Therapy VS Music Education
Education = The act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills
Therapy = The treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process”.
Difference Between Music Therapy & Music Education
Music Education focuses on improving musical skills.
Music Therapy focuses on improving non-musical skills.
How to Choose: Music Teacher or Music Therapist?
You are interested in getting your child into learning a new instrument.
You are interested in improving your child's musical skills through the study of technique, sight-reading, and theoretical concepts.
You would like your child to learn or improve musical skills through adapted music lessons.
You are interested in finding out about how you can use music as a tool to improve your child's cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being.
Tips on How To Teach Music To Your Special-Needs Child
Research has proven that when children with learning disabilities learn to play an instrument; their attention, concentration, impulse control, self-esteem, motivation and memory improve.
A) Consider A Group Setting
Some students do well when they are able to observe and imitate the behaviour of their peers. If your child fits into that category, do consider group lessons, which can be helpful in allowing your child to hear and see how others in his class are behaving.
B) Be Consistent In Practicing With Your Child
Kids with special needs benefit from structure and process of learning.
Use a visual schedule or verbal reminders leading up to practising — ideally at the same time each day — to help your child develop good habits and have a successful transition into practice time.
This is an example of how a visual Instrumental Practice Calendar looks like:
C) Dance To The Music
Movement is a must for a child with any learning disabilities. Movement is a very important part of learning, thinking, and focusing. It helps to develop sensory experiences, develops base patterns that determines how the child process and react to incoming information and improves the child's working memory (to anchor their thoughts). As the child moves to different rhythms, his physical co-ordination and ability to concentrate improve drastically.
D) Consider Taking Lessons Yourself
If you have musical knowledge, not only will you be so much more able to help your child fix mistakes, you’ll also be able to think about ways to support his learning and prevent frustration as he takes on new music concept each week.
E) Make A Careful Match of Your Child and His/Her Teacher
Talk to your teacher about your child’s strengths and challenges.
If your child has difficulty sitting still for thirty minutes, find a teacher who is willing to use play-based instruction, perhaps moving around the room and teaching certain concepts away from the piano using large motor activities.