Using Musical Instruments with Children with Special Needs

Hey, everyone. It’s Ryan Judd, board certified music therapist at The Rhythm Tree, here to give you more tips, tricks, tools and ideas on how you can use music to help children with special needs. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, please do. I’ve got a link right below. So, click on that and it will bring you to my sign-up page and you’ll get all sorts of great, free ideas and even more tips, tools, tricks, reviews and all sorts of good stuff.

This video blog post today is in honor of people with Down syndrome – celebrating World Down Syndrome Day. I love working with people with Down syndrome. They have a spirit and a sense of humor that is quite amazing. I think you will see this in this video clip. This is an oldie but a goodie. This clip is from several years ago but I think it really demonstrates how to use music to help someone reach a therapeutic goal and also the spirit and joy that people with Down syndrome have.

I am working with my client, he has Hemiparesis, and it is on the left side of his body which he has very little use of. I am having him hang on to this cabasa and it’s a pretty heavy one – the one I have here is different than the one I have in the video. But, he’s hanging on to it with his left hand while I’m singing and improvising a song, encouraging him to lift it up because it takes him so much effort to lift it up just a little bit.

What I think this video most illustrates is music can really increase a child’s or adolescent’s endurance when it comes to working on these physical therapy or occupational therapy goals. Just for a typical person, working out at the gym or at home, if there’s no music… I think it is harder to really get in the groove and to push yourself harder. But, you put on some great music, and all of a sudden, you can push yourself that much further for that much longer. So, another great benefit of music. The cabasa is a great instrument. It is great for grasp and if you’re holding on to it, having a child reach out, it’s great for motion, can be good for children with sensitivity in their palms and work on that. You can even do a little brushing song with it and do some therapeutic brushing as an OT might do. You can also hold it out and have a child cross mid-line or work on shoulder stability and hold it up high. There is so much you can do with a cabasa – great instrument if you’re looking for something to add to your toolbox of musical instruments. I highly recommend a cabasa.

Thank you so much for tuning in to The Rhythm Tree. Please sign up for my newsletter and help us spread the awareness and education about World Down Syndrome Day. It is tomorrow, Thursday, March 21st.

Take care.

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