What is Williams Syndrome?
According the Williams Syndrome Association, Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone. It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. These occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music.
Benefits of music therapy for individuals with Williams Syndrome:
- Research supports a unique musical strengths in music for individuals with Williams syndrome.
- Music offers a comfortable, preferred environment that reduces the frustration of practicing challenging skills such as math or reading.
- Singing can be an in-road to promote early speech in young learners.]
- Music can cultivate friendships with typical peers and inclusion opportunities for general education participation in band, choir, or orchestra.
- Music lessons introduced at an early age nurture skills that can lead to future career interests, community involvement, and a productive lifelong leisure activity.
Williams Syndrome Music Tips
Five Tips: Music Therapy and Williams Syndrome
- To help reduce anxiety, offer a comfy seat and play a song of their choice.
- Try musical Mad-Libs™ by removing key words from a song and having the student made up new ones to sing. For example “… and I think to myself, what a _______ world.”
- Choose a song with a positive message and after listening, have a discussion about what the song means and how it relates to the individual’s life.
- Set a phone number, address, math facts, or spelling words to a familiar tune or a rhythmic beat.
- Use musical themes or musical current events during literacy and social skills units to increase attention.
Williams Syndrome Music Therapy Research
Studies of brain anatomy in individuals with Williams syndrome suggest that asymmetry may link preserved auditory pattern perception and musical processing. These enhanced responses to music include increased engagement and preference for music and evidence of increased pitch perception and preserved rhythmic capabilities, despite deficits in other non-music areas. Preliminary findings show positive results when using music as a teaching tool for mathematics and verbal memory.
Music Camps and Academies for Williams Syndrome
Musicians with Williams Syndrome
AJ is an accomplished drummer who eats, sleeps, and breathes rhythm. In addition to performing with other music students at Rancho Bernardo High School and for youth services at Church of Rancho Bernardo, AJ jams with friends and family as often as opportunity arises.
The Kandoo Band
The Kandoo Band is a group of six musicians and friends, all diagnosed with Williams syndrome, who first met at a Williams Syndrome Association Music Camp in Lenox, Massachusetts. The following verse, attributed to the writer Goethe, inspired the name the musicians chose for the band they formed:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Some of the Kandoo Band members have been playing together for more than ten years. All have studied music performance at Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Now based in Connecticut, the Kandoo Band is fulfilling its dream of making music and making a difference!