Can music help people with Parkinson’s?

Music therapy and music learning are having a profound impact on the life and rehabilitation of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. It is important to understand the difference between music therapy and music learning because sometimes they either look very similar, or one leads seamlessly into the other.

Music therapy is a music based intervention for a therapeutic outcome, it is very individualised and based on the background and clinical needs of the patient. Music learning is the, often highly structured, approach to learning how to play, create and understand music. Music learning tends to follow a set of steps which music teachers can then individualise to each student’s interests and ways of learning.

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In the case of Derick, he is doing a bit of both. He is using music to ease the symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease as well as methodically improve his co-ordination and rhythm through learning to play piano.

For Parkinson’s sufferers, the need to consistently work with rhythm is very high, as the disease itself seems to strip away the consistency to which rhythmic information travels through the body.

“Music can help us stay focused on a particular activity, encourage rhythmic movements, or increase our enthusiasm with a stronger beat or faster pace.”

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