Benefits of Music for people with Learning Disabilities

Music is a medium through which individuals can cultivate different connections, hence it has the power to affect people in ways.  The various genres of music can relate to different emotions and feelings that individuals are experiencing. People with learning disabilities are often misunderstood and face societal inequalities relating to their mental wellbeing, while facing potential exclusion and isolation. It is likely that people with disabilities experience challenges in their verbal and non-verbal communication, including language, speech, writing and reading. In addition, individuals can also struggle to focus, have a lack of attention and concentration. Research has highlighted that music could strengthen parts of the brain to help with the mentioned elements experienced by individuals with learning disabilities.

Cognitive neuroscience of music highlights that when music is created a combination of the hippocampus, auditory cortex, visual cortex, sensory cortex, amygdala, motor cortex, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum are all stimulated.  This musical sound experience becomes multi-sensory due to interaction with every element of the brain.  The repetition of the melody and elements, facilitate the brain towards improved memory through the development of patterns.

Which elements can music help in people with learning disabilities?

  • Social skills
  • Behavioural problems
  • Cognitive challenges
  • Communication
  • Perceptual and motor skills
  • Personal reliance and confidence
  • Motivation and determination

The power of creativity

Music stimulates creativity through which people have the ability to facilitate self-growth, understanding the self and expressing their inner emotions. Music can facilitate people with learning difficulties to strengthen the following:

  • Listening skills
  • Communication skills
  • Language development
  • Expression
  • Promote creativity
  • Imagination
  • Relationships
  • Promote dancing linked to muscle strength and coordination
  • Concentration
  • Self-expression

Music the Motivator

Music can motivate individuals to overcome challenging tasks through listening to the rhythm, beats and lyrics. Music can involve playing instruments that create a melody through improving hand-eye coordination, while singing can cause a reduction in stress levels as it promotes relaxation and can contribute to improving the mood. Attention spans can be increased through music particularly when responding to tried and tested unsuccessful treatments. People with learning disabilities can greatly benefit from music as they find an alternative means through which they can creatively express themselves, particularly when they find expressing themselves challenging. They can form new relationships and reap the benefits of social interaction when generally they may shy away from social interaction. When individuals feel that communication through words is challenging, expression through music can facilitate the communication and help people with learning difficulties to grow and be understood. Through music individuals can connect with each other, global societies and their true self.

Nurbanu Somani
Nurbanu Somani

Nurbanu is a postgraduate researcher at Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, exploring the therapeutic benefits of music to promote health and wellbeing in older adults with late onset of vision loss. She is passionate to connect with people and bring joy into their lives by promoting music as an outlet for comfort and emotional expression.

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