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Depressed Children Benefit From Music Therapy

1:45

Can music therapy help young children and adolescents suffering from depression? A new study finds that allowing children to create their own music can help them recover from depression and low-self esteem.

In a study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, scientists at Bournemouth University in England and Queen's University Belfast recruited 251 children between the ages of 8 and 16 years old. All the children were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioral problems. The study included 128 children that received a typical treatment program, and 123 that received music therapy in addition to typical treatment. The research took place between March 2011 and May 2014.

Children assigned to the experimental group received the Alvin model of "free improvisation," which encouraged them to create their own music and sound using their voice, instrument, or movement while receiving encouragement. Instruments included guitars, keyboards, drums, and xylophones.

According to the authors, participants treated with the supplementary music therapy had significantly reduced depression and higher self-esteem than those who were treated with typical methods only. Children treated with music therapy also had improved communicative and interactive skills. Early findings indicate that the benefits are sustained in the long term.

"This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioral problems and mental health needs," first author Sam Porter said in a press release. "The findings contained in our report should be considered by healthcare providers and commissioners when making decisions about the sort of care for young people that they wish to support."

It’s not surprising that creating music can help lift depression. All music is feeling. Composers, songwriters and instrumentalist use music to express all kinds of emotions from joy and excitement to grief and loneliness. Love, or the lack of it, is the most written about human experience. Rhythm and movement can give expression to deeply held convictions or emotions. Allowing children to express those emotions with music in a safe environment may help break the loop of insecurities and fears in their head.

"Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomized controlled trail in a clinical setting," music therapy partner Ciara Reilly said. "The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option."

Going forward, researchers plan to evaluate how cost-effective music therapy is compared to more conventional methods.

Story sources: Ryan Maass, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/11/03/Music-therapy-helps-children-with-depression-study-finds/8461478179665/

http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/mood-disorders/music-therapy-reduces-depression-in-kids/article/379121/

Image courtesy of: https://tcmusicnewsandnotes.wordpress.com/page/22/

Parenting

The Magic of Music

2:00

“Where words fail, music speaks,” wrote Danish author, Hans Christian Anderson and he was so right. Music is the universe’s official language where old and young share its beauty and complexity.

Alzheimer’s patients have been known to respond with joy and excitement when played their favorite music after being non-responsive to other stimulus.

Children jump in rhythm and clap their hands when they hear the sounds of instruments playing. Hundreds of YouTube videos show how quickly tears can turn to smiles and giggles as the first notes of Disney’s  “Let It Go” spring forth. 

Is there really anyone who isn’t deeply affected by music?

Research has shown that particpating in music benefits children when learning other subjects and offers kids a variety of skills they can use throughout their life. 

“A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.

Can particpation in music make a child smarter? There’s a difference of opinion about that. However, it’s safe to say that it takes an assortment of specific skills to sing or play an instrument or do both simultaneously.

For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.

Children have learned how to sing and speak in other languages by listening to cross-culture songs. I even picked up a little French from the Beatles’ “Michelle” when I was a child. “Michelle, ma belle, Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,Tres bien ensemble.”(These are words which go together well, together well.)

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a non-musician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.

Playing music makes your brain work harder, but what about just listening to music? While some studies have noted that learning to play music can enhance your brain, listening to music just makes you feel good. But really, isn’t that wonderful too?

Music enriches your life. It’s captivating and has the power to make you smile or cry. Most of all, it’s universal.

Introducing children to music at a young age opens the door to new adventures. Whether it’s classical or hip-hop, country or rock, bluegrass or blues, jazz or Dixieland, African rhythms or Mongolian throat-singing; borders and politics may separate people, but nations and communities will share their music.

“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”

Yes, music is the official language of the universe and a beautiful gift to share with our children.

Source: Laura Lewis Brown, http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education

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