Music is one of the greatest joys in life. We are surrounded by it in every step of our daily routine …. we have it in the background at home and at work, we walk down the street with it plugged into our ears . All forms of media rely on music to get their point across.  The music is what elicits an emotional response in a TV show or movie and, according to my son who is music composition major, it is the music that will either make or break a video game or show.  Music is also an integral part of all our most important milestones or special occasions.  We all have that “special song” that we want to hear at a wedding, anniversary, or even a funeral.

We’ve been made aware in the last few years about the effects that music has on the brain … music will make our kids smarter and help them with their math and science.  In the last few weeks, however, I’ve had the privilege of working on a program of music and therapy for children with special needs, a project which I’m very excited about.  Putting together the curriculum for this program has highlighted for me all the other benefits of involving our children in music:

Music can help kids of all ages to define their own identities and to have the self confidence to participate in social groups.  It can help develop social communication skills such as listening, self-expression and understanding.  Music can provide an outlet for emotional expression, but it can also help to keep those emotions under control.  It can encourage our children to be physically active, but can also help them learn to sit quietly and pay attention.  Musical activities can help our children develop body awareness, gross or fine motor control and coordination.  Active participation in music can also increase language skills and develop memory skills.  In short, it assists in all forms of mental and physical growth.

As we get closer to launching the new program, though, it strikes me that the greatest benefit of music is the ability to bring a few moments of pure joy into the lives of children and families who face unimaginable challenges every day.