Music is defined as “vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.” We all enjoy music during a variety of activities like working out, driving, relaxing with friends or families, or when we are trying to focus. Music can have the same benefits in therapy and at home to help support children and their sensory system attain a regulated state.
Rhythms in the body
Our bodies naturally work at rhythms and beats which is why music can be so effective. Our hearts and brains both work on rhythms. Our hearts and brain are the foundation for regulation, attention, learning, and social interactions. The first signs that someone is dysregulated and would benefit from external support such as music is a change in their heart rate and breathing.
Types of music
There are many types and genres of music, for example: instrumental, lyrical, country, classical and many more. It is important to understand the basis and foundation of music to understand the effect it may have on your child and their sensory system. Our Occupational Therapists generally look at if the music will be alerting or calming. Alerting music will be arrhythmic with lots of unplanned changes to the beat. Calming music is going to be very rhythmic with repeated and expected changes to the beat. Alerting music is used when someone is in a low arousal state. This means when they are tired, bored, or sick. Calming music will be used when someone is in a high arousal state. This means when they are upset, angry, very excited or when they are “bouncing off the walls”.
In therapy our occupational therapist tends to use music that is instrumental, or has no lyrics, but at home it may be just what you need. You can make it fun and incorporate a game such as freeze dance or dance party to really help your child “wake up” their bodies. Some of our favorite music to play is instrumental nursery rhymes called Kidz Jamz. These playlists can be found on multiple music streaming sites such as apple music, Spotify or Youtube. Other great options for home can be Kidz Bop music as it has all of your favorite songs with a fun kid friendly twist.