The Importance of Community Music for Those With Special Needs
Listening to and making music can relieve stress and lessen anxiety and depression. The positive effects are enhanced and expanded when we experience and make music in a group setting – the most basic definition of “community music.”
People with special needs especially reap benefits from participating in community music as it provides opportunities and experiences that may not otherwise be available to them, such as new social interactions, a sense of accomplishment, being part of a team, and the ability to express their creativity. Studies show that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience improved self-esteem, lower anxiety and improve attitudes toward peers while those with Down syndrome have been shown to improve memory, communication and social skills. In fact, participating in a community music program can significantly improve everyone’s social, and musical, skills.
The unique performance and audio recording activities offered by The Coffeehouse Project also serve to link people with special needs more strongly to their geographic communities and expose a wider audience to what special needs musicians are capable of. As we are fond of saying, life goes better with music, and this is as true for the special needs population as for any other.