At New Directions we believe that everyone should be able to enjoy making music. Creating and listening to music is an empowering experience and encourages meaningful communication and a positive sense of self. Therefore at New Directions we enable people to take part in musical activities such as band nights, music groups where people compose music, karaoke, interactive magic carpet, attending concerts and discos.
Music-making enables individuals to communicate in ways that might not be possible with words. Sometimes it means that we use modern technology to unlock music-making talents. Music-making sessions offer a place for social interaction, expressing feelings and connecting with ourselves, and others. Studies have also shown that when you hear music that we enjoy we detect emotions in sound, which enables our brains to release a chemical called dopamine that improves our mood. This means that music helps to create happiness and relaxation in everyday life. Research has also shown that the repeating of pitch, melody, rhythm, and tempo helps our brains form patterns that enhance memory. People we support understand musical notes, chords, octaves and rhythm mathematically. Studies are is mixed, but there seems to be an underlying link between making music and improved abilities in maths.
Playing an instrument also helps with hand-eye-ear coordination and the physical act of singing can lift mood, increase feeling of relaxation and reduce physical and emotional stress. Music is also a very effective means to stimulate and focus an individual’s attention and the benefits may be particularly relevant for some people who are unable to respond to other interventions. We understand at New Directions that being actively involved in music (by playing or singing) is a highly valuable experience for people with learning disabilities because it provides people who have trouble expressing themselves with a way to express themselves, form relationships and benefit from personal contact.