What is Down Syndrome?
As defined by the National Down Syndrome Society, Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.
Benefits of music therapy for individuals with Down syndrome:
- Research supports the ability of music to improve memory, communication, and social skills.
- Music provides a fun and motivating way to tackle challenging or repetitive tasks.
- Singing and rhythm provide a way to help the pacing and articulation for speech that is difficult to understand.
- Passion for music and performance, which we see daily with our clients who have Down syndrome, provides opportunities for a lifelong way to use leisure time productively, cultivate talents, and socialize with others.
- The inherent rhythmic patterns in music can provide a timing cue to improve motor skills.
Down Syndrome Music Tips
Five Tips: Music Therapy for Down Syndrome
- Chant math facts, counting, and letter sounds to a beat or sing to a melody.
- Teach piano to help with fine motor skills and color code the notes and keys if needed.
- Have your child help you make up new lyrics to a song to increase time on task. For example, invite your child to fill in the blank for each verse of “If you’re happy and you know it _______.”
- Create pictures which go along with verses in a song and have your child put them in order.
- Say challenging words or phrases to a slow rhythmic beat and have your child copy you.
Download the free illustrated PDF to share with a teacher, parent, or therapist who works with children with Down syndrome.
Musicians with Down Syndrome
Musician, Motivational Speaker
Sujeet, who goes by “Suj”, is an accomplished musician, playing numerous instruments including the clarinet, alto sax, violin, piano, and drums. Suj graduated from Berkshire Hills Music Academy, completing a two year certificate program in Music and Human Services. After completing his studies, he moved to New York to start his job as a musician and enjoy independent life.