Drumming and Music Therapy in Action
Much has been written about the positive effects of music on academic performance, mental and emotional health and its ability to reach people with neurological disorders. As researchers continue to connect music to a wealth of benefits for people of all ages, music therapy continues to reach out and help those with disabilities and disorders that affect overall quality of life.
Senior citizens face many challenges through the aging process. From physical disabilities to mental and neurological disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s, age has a way of creating difficulties for those who were once vibrant members of society. Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the world are seeing results from the incorporation of music into the lives of the residents. As a way to encourage movement, music helps seniors exercise, even if only with the clapping of hands, the tapping of feet, or hand drumming a Djembe or Bongos. Emotionally, music reaches into better times and happier memories, giving seniors a sense of familiarity, encouraging communication and establishing social bonds with other residents, and even with visiting friends and family. Music also helps to calm and soothe, granting patients a serenity that may not be known otherwise.
Children also benefit from music. Academic comprehension and test scores are higher with those children that are exposed to music and especially for those that play an instrument. Children facing emotional health issues, including abuse and neglect, may be reached easier through a familiar song on the radio than with talk therapy. Special needs children, particularly those with Autism, sensory integration or auditory processing disorders are quickly becoming the focus of many music therapists and music therapy programs. Children with physical disabilities may find motivation in therapy if the incentive is banging on a Djembe, which also provides bi-lateral stimulation, as well as works on both fine and gross motor skills.
The benefits of music therapy are widespread and can help people of all ages with disabilities that range from neurological to emotional and physical. The programs developed under the care of a music therapist, whether through rock music, a classroom drum circle, or simply playing music from a person’s childhood, are proving the power and ability of music to not only transform, but also to heal.
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