This weekend we had all of our children and grandchildren visiting for a couple of days. As usual, there was a lot of music being made. Among us we have folks who play piano/keyboard, guitar, ukulele, autoharp, drums (they are perfect for the one-year-old) – and on some occasions we have a flute (though our daughter didn’t bring it this time). One grandson has just begun studying the double bass, so maybe his family will find a way to transport it so he can join us playing that instrument as time goes on.
This experience started me thinking about music and ADHD, and that, not surprisingly, led me to do some online research on the topic. This ADHD hint is informational in nature. Maybe it will inspire you to look further into the relationship between music/rhythm and attention or focus.
The first place my search took me was to something called the Gamelan Project. Gamelan is the music of Indonesia. Gamelan orchestras consist largely of percussion instruments like gongs, chimes, cymbals, bells, drums, but can also include bowed instruments, flutes, and vocalists. If you are interested in world music and how this particular type of music has been used in schools in the US with very interesting results, go to the website of the Gamelan project (see link below). Especially look at the videos by Alex Khalil. He describes some very interesting experiences he has had in schools working with ADHD students. He makes clear that his anecdotes are just that and that research is ongoing, but I found his talk and examples quite compelling.
Then I found an article from ADDitude magazine called “Music: Sound Medicine for ADHD” (link below). In that article the point is made that music provides structure, “and structure is soothing to an ADHD brain struggling to regulate itself to stay on a linear path.” The article quotes a music therapist named Kirsten Hutchison who said: “Music exists in time, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. That structure helps an ADHD child plan, anticipate, and react.”
Other benefits of music for ADHDers mentioned in the ADDitude article include the fact that pleasurable music increases dopamine levels in the brain, and dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for regulating attention, working memory, and motivation. Music is also social and thus helps students “learn to listen, take turns, anticipate changes, and pick up on cues.”
I’ve posted links to the Gamelan Project and the ADDitude article along with others that might interest you below. I plan to keep looking into this. At a minimum, music enriches the individual and promotes cooperation and tuning in to others; and perhaps there is research being done that will show even more positive effects for those of us with ADHD challenges. Music certainly offers a wonderful channel for activating the creativity and inventiveness that characterize most ADHDers.
Links that might interest you: