Helping babies and toddlers develop with music
Youth Music believes in the power of music to help even the very youngest children. Under 5s and their parents and carers loved this Nottingham project.
We funded a project in Nottingham where children under five - all with special needs including autism, Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and cerebral palsy - learned through music alongside their parents and carers.
Fun and valuable
Songs and games at the Music Time project encouraged listening, responding, tactile awareness, sharing and copying. The sessions were fun, but also central to the sensory, physical, social and emotional development of the participating children, as well as greatly improving their communication skills.
Importantly, the project enabled parents to enjoy quality time with their children. The experience of an uninterrupted and focused music session made a huge difference to these families, many of whom were coming to terms with the needs of their disabled child.
Helping Isaac to communicate
One participant who made great progress through the programme is Isaac, a four-year-old with autistic spectrum disorder. At the start of the project, Isaac was practically mute, and reluctant to engage in eye contact. Today he sings, babbles, signs, says words and interacts more confidently.
He has developed increased assertiveness. Drumming was initially an outlet for his pent up emotion but now he engages in turn-taking, copying games and complex drum conversations unprompted at home. All of his first words were ones learned at music sessions.
Isaac's mother said:
"You have helped his communication skills enormously and this enhanced expression has added to his more general contentment. We are very proud of his achievements that you have encouraged. We were at a low ebb and it has helped us to see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Making breakthroughs with music
Music is a very powerful tool. A speech and language professional who took part in the sessions said:
"I attended a number of the music sessions with a young child who has very delayed communication skills. It has been a revelation to observe how his communication, attention span and eye contact has increased.
“Although he is unable to communicate verbally he did respond appropriately when the music leader asked the group how the next piece would be played. He would do this by banging the instrument fast, loudly, or by banging the floor if it was to be played quietly. He was always correct! There has also been a marked improvement in his ability to concentrate and in his social development."
Getting Molly's family through tough times
One of the great achievements of the project is how it has changed attitudes about the benefits of music-making among participating parents and carers. Sue, whose granddaughter Molly was enrolled on the Youth Music project, explained the deep impact it has had on her and her whole family:
" Molly was born very prematurely and spent the first four months in a special care baby unit. Her parents felt helpless at times, as this tiny fragile baby fought to survive. We soon became aware that quietly singing lullabies soothed and settled Molly and gave her some continuity and calm throughout all of the pain and chaos of her early days.
“Through Music Time we were exposed to music, using rhyme, rhythm and songs. This gave us a variety of ideas to put into practice when we sang and played with Molly. The 'Tick Tock' song was used whenever Molly had to have her inhalers and medications. Sometimes one of us would sing and dance whilst the other gave the drugs, much to the mirth of the hospital staff on Molly's numerous admissions.
"At one point Molly was dangerously ill and I feel that our songs helped us all emotionally. It was all we could cling to. When Molly eventually regained consciousness we sang!”
Your donations help us do more
To give more young children like Isaac and Molly the chance to develop through music, donate now.