The benefits of music therapy for people with learning disabilities

22nd July 2016

Many of the people we support attend music therapy sessions. We spoke to Jeremy Wallace, Deputy Manager at FitzRoy Huw’s in Nottingham. He told us about the benefits of music therapy for people with learning disabilities.

“Music plays an incredibly important role in the lives of many of the people who live at Huw’s. Not only does listening and playing music provide enjoyment; but, it also helps people communicate how they feel, encourages independence, and provides them with a way to express themselves.

For example, David is at his happiest when he is playing his guitar or listening to music at concerts or at home. It’s also clear to see the pleasure music brings to Charlotte, who loves listening to Elvis and movie soundtracks. Other audience members at concerts have even commented on how much Charlotte seems to be enjoying the music.

At Huw’s we have weekly music therapy sessions. As well as being enjoyable for everyone involved, the sessions encourage personal growth and develop creative and interactive skills. We’ve seen many examples of people overcoming anxieties and gaining confidence to try new instruments and join in with new activities. Rachel, who was reluctant at first to participate in the sessions, now plays the instruments unsupported and spontaneously. This provides Rachel with a great amount of enjoyment and has helped to build her confidence and self-belief in trying new things.

Music has also helped build bridges between Huw’s and the local community. We have regular visits from an ensemble group from Nottingham University. These occasions are great fun and everyone gets a lot out of them. The people who live at Huw’s choose to go to many different musical events. These range from going to pop concerts such as the Saturdays, Kylie, and Katy Perry; to see musicals such as Dirty Dancing, The Bodyguard and Mama Mia; and choirs such as Unlimited Voices.”

Music has also been important recently for fundraising! Bev Pearson and Jim Apted, Community Fundraisers, both attended choirs in aid of FitzRoy.

Bev went along to a choir ‘Soundswell’ in Nottingham with Jeremy Wallace and some of the people who live at Huw’s. Jeremy explained how one resident, Richard, reacted to the music:

“One operatic piece sung by a soloist stopped Richard in his tracks. He normally finds it difficult to control movement, but he sat perfectly still during her performance, listening intently. This clearly demonstrated the benefits of music.”

Both choir events raised a whopping total of £1500, which will help us to continue to transform lives through music.