An anxiety that accompanies anticipation was growing in the pit in my stomach.

As a distraction, I began counting the drip, drip, drip of the pitocin (labor-inducing drug) as it rhythmically entered my veins. In time-warp fashion, I began to relax as the hypnotic drip became a perfectly timed waltz.

November 23, 1982. The air was crisp and cool. The sun was shining. The birds were singing.

The perfect Norman Rockwell day in Southern California.

And a “just what the doctor ordered” day to have a baby.

Like every mother about to give birth, I was hoping for an uneventful delivery.

A few weeks before, my doctor announced he was going out of town and suggested if the baby wasn’t here by a certain date, he wanted to induce labor.  He assured me that everything would be fine despite my baby being six weeks early.

But, the delivery was anything but fine.

Brandon was too high in the birth canal.

The forceps delivery went awry causing brain injuries.

The result: a son with severe learning disabilities.

A Challenging Child

A traumatic birth left Brandon with severe learning disabilities. But music was the catalyst for him to learn and understand information

Brandon was not an easy baby. Awake or asleep, he wanted me to hold him.

Ear infections never cleared up. And daily doses of low-grade antibiotics did nothing to prevent them.

He had significant language delays. We hired a speech and language therapist to help him. He was three.

At the age of five, he went through extensive testing. Eventually, SPECT scans (nuclear images of the brain) revealed various issues.

Educational psychologists and therapists told us that because of the seriousness of his learning disabilities, it was unlikely he would graduate from high school and college was out of the question. We were told to brace ourselves for a rough-go so far as anything related to learning.

They were right—it was a rough go. Trying to help Brandon understand the basics was both discouraging and overwhelming.

But, if you have a child with learning disabilities, listen up:

DO NOT GIVE UP!

THEY CAN LEARN!

And I’ll tell you why:

Music will make a difference. It did for Brandon and it will for your child, too.

Why Music Makes a Difference

As I researched different ways to help Brandon learn, I discovered that he, like so many children, loved and responded to music. So, I used musical games, rhymes, and songs to help him learn. I played classical music for him while he was doing homework, and I taught him the piano.

I was convinced that parts of his brain, rather than malfunctioning, were in need of the kind of exercise that one gets from studying a musical instrument.

It was true—music became the catalyst for him to learn and process information.

Music is a vital part of the learning process for all children (learning disabled or not).

Why?

Because learning a musical instrument exercises the entire brain (left, right, front, back) simultaneously. And because of this, music makes the learning process easier and more accessible for kids.

Here are 4 Ways Music Builds the Brain:

#1: Music Strengthens the Auditory, Visual, and Motor Areas of the Brain

Here is an illustration of how music exercises the entire brain; particularly the auditory, visual and motor areas of the brain. These are all areas that are important to learning. (used by permission: Deseret News Graphic)

These areas of the brain lay the foundation for speech and language, reading, math, and brain organization.

Because music strengthens and exercises these areas, it is a way all kids can learn and learn easier.

Scientific research shows that all kids involved in music have:

  • Better language skills
  • Better reading and math skills
  • More organized
  • Have better attention skills
  • Do better on standardized tests

 Suggestion: The best way to academically help any child is to get them involved with music. Think of it as brain aerobics.

Find group lessons, private lessons or school music programs. Check out your neighborhoods for teachers and programs. Kindermusik and “Let’s Play Music” are both excellent programs and offer lessons starting around 18 months of age.

Involvement in music will also help your child build friendships and learn important values.

Here is a chart breaking down how music strengthens the auditory, visual/spatial and motor areas of the brain:

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