Singing as Treatment For Learning Disabilities

 

Singing can be a worthwhile personal and creative outlet for people struggling with learning challenges and/or psychological disorders which are often co-occuring. Having a neurological disability can make life stressful when we live in a society that even people with neuro-typical brains find challenging. Pressure from work or school, to meet challenging deadlines, to socialize or listen to peers the way "normal" people do, can feel like a failed juggling act when faced with a learning challenge. Singing, however, provides solutions. Firstly, singing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which can improve overall mood and relieve added stress from having a learning disability. Group singing can also improve overall mood and happiness by activating oxytocin, a hormone necessary for establishing bonding. Relieving stress through bonding also improves cognitive ability in people with neurological challenges. 

Learning music in general also makes the brain work more efficiently. Researchers at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute discovered that musicians used fewer brain resources when carrying out a memory test compared to their non-musical counterparts. There have also been studies to support that singing may promote structural changes in the human brain that can help individuals to learn and think more quickly. A study conducted on songbirds revealed structural changes to the brain within 24 hours of learning their first song. Cells associated to learning in the brain became larger. Although this study was not done to humans, the brain structures examined in the birds are similar to that of humans. 

The mastery of singing requires discipline which is a necessary skill for a learning disabled individual who might otherwise lack the consistency and confidence in oneself to finish long-term goals. It is the job of the voice teacher to hold the student accountable for completing small achievable goals in order to accomplish the larger pursuit. A voice teacher with an understanding of disabilities can provide the student with tips and tricks for time-management, lots of positive reinforcement and strategies for staying motivated over longer periods of time. 

Singing study is also often focused on the individual student, which is the ideal learning environment for someone with disabilities. A teacher who is teaching a classroom of students cannot as effectively cater to an individual student the way a private tutor can. Your voice teacher is your singing tutor and mentor that cares about your specific learning needs and goals and will help you achieve your desired results more efficiently than a group teacher or online resource.