Music decreases depression & improves general cognitive function in elderly individuals

What do you get when you put Orff, Jazz and a group of elderly non-musicians together? The answer is, happier people!

This randomised study, which means the participants were not necessarily interested in learning music, saw 45 people aged 62 to 95 (healthy or with cognitive impairment) attend an intensive music training program composed of twelve 70-minute sessions, twice a week. An equal number attended a different activity of the same type of engagement level. The researchers then compared the groups on a number of measures including depressed mood and general cognitive function.

What did they find? “This study provides evidence that music training has a positive impact on depressed mood and general cognitive function in elderly participants. These types of music training sessions could provide aid to control the symptoms of depression, delay the deterioration of cognitive function, and enhance social–cognitive function, especially in individuals presenting with cognitive impairment.”

The most interesting part was that when we looked at the description of the musical activities, it sounds quite a bit like the fun and structure we would see in an early learning classroom.

Check out our “Get your Bigger Better Brain at home” series for at-home activities aimed to either relieve stress and/or supercharge your students brains for learning

“The music training sessions were the same as utilised by Biasutti and Mangiacotti (2018). This training is designed on rhythm-music and music improvisation exercises, in line with the following two categories: (a) Imitation, creation, and execution of rhythms through the use of Orff instrument and body percussion; and (b) Scat singing. All the exercises are replicable, easy to understand and perform, with growing difficulty overtime. The music training was designed to facilitate social interaction within the group. Alongside this, to stimulate creative processes and cognitive functions, the exercises facilitated the use of interpersonal skills such as communication, decision-making, and leadership (Biasutti & Frezza, 2009).”

It seems like early years music education might be good all throughout our lives!

Read more here

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