What is ADD/ADHD?
Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a chronic condition where an individual has attention problem, hyperactivity, and/or impulsiveness and in many case restlessness. A complex condition which can challenge children as well as adults and can occur at any point in an individual’s life. The good news is this condition is manageable through medication as well as alternative therapies.
Although there are medical treatments, “Everyone gets a little nervous when the doctor reaches for his prescription pad and rips off a sheet to prescribe ADHD medication. So many questions and so little time.”
— William Dodson, M.D.
There are medications and stimulants in the market that doctors prescribe for managing ADD/ ADHD. However, medications come with their share of side effects. Bringing a change in lifestyle and introducing alternative therapies that calm the mind has been suggested to bring about an improvement in patients diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. One of such alternative therapies is music. Music has the ability to strengthen and calm the mind.
Ms. Maureen Owiti, Director of the Sugarland School of Music, says that music is excellent for children and adults with ADHD. This is because it creates a sense of calm and tranquility in individuals and helps them focus more on the task at hand. She says, “It keeps the mind from wandering in children and aids concentration.” This is the reason music is used in movies; it helps in building certain moods within people. She further elaborates, “choosing the right kind of music to play for your child is critical.” Ms. Owiti suggests music by composers such as Mozart, Clementi, and Kuhlau as they have light airy and beautiful melodies. This creates feeling of joy, eases the mind, and soothes anxiety that ADHD children feel. Ms. Owiti maintains that music aids spatial reasoning and cognitive thinking.
Talking about her experience with children with ADD/ADHD she says, “They are different. Some have taken piano lessons and have shown greater improvement than others, but overall all have shown progress in their ability to sit still and focus.”
Ms. Owiti explains that music contains many repetitive rhythmic patterns that stimulate parts of the brain that aid memorization. Learning different forms of music provides structure to the children with ADD/ADHD thereby improving self-awareness and self-control.
Ms. Owiti is an enthusiastic music instructor too. She began taking piano lessons at the age of 9. Her mother was a music teacher and there was a lot of music around the home. She also took music theory lessons. She calls music a universal language and a complete mode of expression and communication. Maintaining a long relationship with music, she does not doubt that it helps with brain development in both children and adults.
She encourages everyone to believe in the healing powers of music. She believes that all children should have an opportunity to take music lessons, as there is so much to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.