Music – the medium of friendship

  • An early function of music in human history was to bind tribes of us together, and music still fulfils that function today.
  • When we make music with others, our bodily rhythms synchronise, and hormones such as oxytonin are released, making us feel good together.
  • Just listening to music with someone else can release the bonding hormone prolactin.
  • So, whatever their stage of development or level of disease, music can be used with children and young people to help them engage with others in a range of social and musical contexts.

Musing music to structure social interaction

  • Music is highly structured, and songs can provide an engaging framework for taking turns and listening to others – particularly valuable for children and young people who have limited vision or who cannot see.
  • For children and young people in whom language is not functional, encourage parents to use music to mark out key social events in the day.
  • Encourage parents to use songs from ‘Tuning In’, such as ‘In the Circle’ and ‘Together and alone’ to promote social skills. AmberPlus Music Resources
  • If the child is unable to see or speak, ‘personal soundmakers’ may provide a welcome sense of identity and can be used in songs such as ‘Who’s sitting next to me?’.

Inclusive listening

  • Music forms an important part of many social and cultural occasions, and is the main focus of some.
  • Encourage parents to take their child to musical events to enable them to experience the togetherness that being in an audience or crowd can bring.
  • Many theatres and orchestras offer ‘relaxed’ performances that may be more appropriate for children whose responses are unpredictable.
  • Suggest to parents that, where possible, they may like to record the events so that they can be re-lived later.