The study of music is well known to have multiple benefits for the individual, not only in the realm of learning an instrument. For individuals with physical or mental disabilities or those looking to deal with stress, anxiety or improve their motor skills, music therapy can offer considerable advantages.
Science has long proven the value of both playing and listening to music. Playing an instrument improves concentration, develops the brain and helps with a slew of other important social skills. Studying music can improve cognition and enhance learning and memory. The part of the brain that deals with language and reason also deals with music, activating this part of the brain by playing an instrument helps to develop these skills.
Humans have long had a relationship with music, and studies have shown the importance of introducing music to young children. It stands to reason then that music and music therapy sessions can aid a wide range of ailments.
“Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation, providing emotional support for individuals and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.”
(American Music Therapy Association, 2020.)
Music is a powerful tool. In Music Therapy, music can be used as a way to build connections, both socially and cognitively. Music Therapists are able to guide their clients in their musical exploration, encouraging them, as well as identifying techniques that can help them improve or work on specific areas. Through sound and play, they are exposed to a variety of challenges which equip them for the future. Music Therapy can give an individual important tools with which to navigate their normal life.
Treatments include creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.
For example, singing can strengthen the immune system and research has shown that producing certain sounds can help specific aspects of your health. Singing improves your mood by releasing endorphins. Studies have demonstrated that singing can decrease cortisol levels, which are responsible for stress. Singers often experience increased relaxation. Singing, listening to music and playing musical instruments all combat anxiety & depression.
Singing also aids metabolism, boosts alertness and can be an excellent form of exercise, especially for those who are physically disabled or can no longer move as well, like the elderly. It helps to increase aerobic capacity and stamina and improves posture. Posture techniques used in both singing and playing an instrument help build strong muscles and a good posture relieves back and neck strain. Easing muscle tension is something that can significantly benefit people with physical handicaps, or motor skill issues.
Exposure to Music Therapy techniques not only develops imagination and intellectual curiosity but the rhythms of music also aid those with physical issues by helping them time their movements to the beat of the music. According to papers published on Neuroplasticity, “Playing a musical instrument demands the coordination of hand movements with integrated auditory, visual, and tactile feedback, in a process that recruits multiple brain regions. These multiple demands during instrument playing, together with the entertaining character of music, have led to the development and investigation of music-supported therapies, especially for rehabilitation with motor disorders.”
The same concept can be applied to speech and language development. Because verbal difficulties often tend to create communication barriers, leading to low self-esteem, any therapy that can help an individual with their vocal issues is important. Repetitive speech, such as the chorus of a song, can improve one’s ability to participate in a conversation. Singing together with the music, helps to develop control of the vocal muscles. Cognitively, music can be used as a tool to help recall conversation just as you would remember song lyrics. This can be vitally important for those suffering memory handicaps, like dementia or Alzheimers. Not only can listening to their favourite song greatly reduce stress and agitation, but also offers a way for them to connect emotionally with loved ones.
Music when used in therapeutic instances offers a vast array of benefits. Shine Music School in Barcelona is now offering Music Therapy sessions. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more.
“Where words fail, music speaks”
Hans Christian Andersen