September 21

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The Power of Music … a great healer and Benchmarking

Music heals, it brings joy to people, it lifts the mood, it reduces anxiety, it soothes the soul, it breaks barriers of language and the list goes on….

However, I didn’t understand the power of music fully till I met Ms Rama Bhalla. Rama is music teacher in Aashirwad School (for mentally retarded & disabled children). She is differently abled having lost her eyesight during her childhood. She served as Music Teacher in a Government School and retired from her job in 2006. She received National Award for her exemplary service from President of India.

Post retirement, she decided to pay back to the society and got engaged with Aashirwad School. Since then, she has been serving as music therapist for differently abled children; she donates her salary to the school for betterment of the children. She is epitome of the social service to me.

Rama has developed great bond with the children and finds great pleasure when she looks at happy faces of the children during her music class. Children enjoy her class with full passion and enthusiasm.

Looking at happy faces of the children, I did some search on the benefits of music and came out with a range of points, wanted to highlight few of those here-

  • Listening to music, our brain releases dopamine, which helps in healthy functioning of the central nervous system. It has effect on emotions, perception and movement
  • Music affects the heart rate and breathing in a positive manner and heals the sick blood cells as well.
  • While music has positive results for all, there are specific benefits for children impacted with autism. Listening to music requires use of both sides of the brain – right side of the brain for musical tone & rhythm while left side of the brain handles musical melody, tempo and musical notes. Listening or learning music results in positive impact on speech and communication.
  • Music also helps in improving problematic behaviours, emotion recognition, improving eye contact and social skills for children with autism.

In summary, there are many reasons to make our heart sing!

Apart from music, I have been fascinated with the power of sharing insights from different sources to improvise. As indicated in my previous blog, there is significant resource and competency gap at my school. I didn’t have much understanding of the subject and hence went on for knowledge hunt. My visits covered 4 good standard Special Education Schools (for mental retardation) and 2 Government Institutes working in this field – NIMH (National Institute of Mentally Handicapped) and RCI (Rehabilitation Council of India).

This helped me in figuring out a range of improvement opportunities to enhance rehabilitation services for settlement of the children in their life, few important ones are-

  • Curriculum for Secondary and Pre-vocational Classes – NIMH recommended Functional Assessment system which puts structure to the whole effort. Pre-vocational activities with focus on functional training of differently abled equipping them with the necessary life skills
  • Software package for Computer Education of differently abled
  • Advanced Teaching Aids and equipment involving latest technology
  • Linkages to other partners working on vocational education (post children complete education at Aashirwad School)

I am excited about the opportunities and would share practical changes being made at school in next blog. Till then, enjoy the magic of music!

Gurpreet Singh