The Power of Music for Someone with a Disability

Woman with a developmental disability playing the piano

Music is powerful, provides numerous health and wellness benefits, is far reaching and accessible.  For people with disabilities, music can offer a form of personalized therapy.

After looking at the full spectrum of evidence-based benefits, Medical News Today concluded that music therapy should be used more in health care settings.  For someone with a disability, music can play an important role within a daily schedule.

Music to my ears… and my brain

Countless studies have recorded the benefits of music.  Prescribed by a health care professional, music therapy is a means to improve behaviors and emotions and has shown to be an effective treatment for neurological ailments, including brain injuries, seizures, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and tension headaches.  For a person with a disability, potential benefits may include the following:

  • Stimulates learning: Repetition and memorization are improved with the rhythm of music aiding in the ability to recall
  • Helps to focus a person’s attention and allows attention to be directed more effectively
  • Calms anxieties and relaxes an individual when stressed or over-stimulated
  • Energizes and motivates an individual to continue or pursue additional efforts
  • Aids in communication by stimulating and encouraging a person’s speech as well as creating a path for nonverbal forms of communication
  • Improves a person’s physical skills
  • Assists with pain management and helps deal with discomfort
  • Equalizes people socially and offers people with disabilities the opportunity to interact and participate with those who do not have the same challenges 
  • Allows people to express and experience a variety of emotions and may help control emotional outbursts
  • Provides a general sense of satisfaction and strengthens self-esteem 

Music transcends cultures, can be personalized to one’s individuality and is inclusive. A dose of Counting Crows or Dave Matthews may be the answer to one person, while another may receive a similar positive response from Amy Grant or Frank Sinatra.

Moreover, using music in group setting allows the presence of a disability to fade or disappear entirely. People with disabilities can participate in music even with their challenges.

The show must go on

Understanding the far-reaching benefits of music, home-bound singers, songwriters, musicians and performers from all genres have taken to the internet to lend their talent to help people cope during this unusual time of social distancing. Also getting on the bandwagon are networks, social platforms and streaming sites with tried and true music-based programing that appeals to the masses. Here are some music-oriented ideas to consider:      

  • Performances from a favorite Broadway musical may be available via Broadway HD, Amazon Prime or other service
  • Some symphony houses are live streaming concerts in addition to offering previously recorded performances
  • Artists are using social platforms such as Facebook Live to offer free concerts: Follow your favorite artist to catch these opportunities
  • Networks are holding music events and rerunning popular programs: Check your local listings
  • Radio shows can be streamed live; just search for your favorite genre
  • AbleLight is offering a Stronger Together Concert series as well as other music playlists:  Check out our In-Home Activity Center for more 

Find out what your loved one best responds to and try new ways to integrate music into your routine.  With the vast offering of so many musical options today, it’s easier than ever to tap into a solution that will have you singing praises.