Music Therapy and Down Syndrome

Welcome to Ignite Music Therapy’s January newsletter edition! This month is focused on how music therapy can be beneficial for individuals  who have Down Syndrome!


Down Syndrome  

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition in which individuals have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. “This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.” (National Down Syndrome Society)

Music Therapy Interventions

Music therapists typically work with individuals with Down Syndrome to increase cognitive skills, behavioral skills, emotional support, motor skills, and social skills. These skills are usually broken down into objectives such as turn taking for social skills, or learning the alphabet for cognitive skills. In this newsletter I am going to break it down into different interventions that I use for my clients with Down Syndrome!

Behavior Skills

There are two kiddos who I am working with right now on impulse control. Many kids struggle with this concept of waiting to do something and so I use a music mnemonic taught to me by one of my amazing music therapy professors from college and it has helped so many of my clients drastically! It’s called “Please, Wait”. I usually don’t explain this song and just start singing it and doing the actions if students are struggling with impulse control and as soon as I start it, students stop what they are doing almost immediately to see what I am doing, to hear what I am saying, and start to do the actions with me. The main focus here is that as soon as I start singing, students stop. And I mean completely STOP! Do you know why this happens? Because students, kids, and people in general are used to other people talking to or at them all day long. As soon as someone starts singing, your attention shifts to that individual because it is new, it is interesting, the music pulls you in! This month I challenge you to sing your instructions to your child, a student you work with, or anyone else to see what happens! Then, let us know how it worked out for you by emailing us at!

Cognitive Skills

I have a lot of individuals right now who are working on identifying colors so I created a fun and easy song to work on these identification skills. It is called the “I See” song. I like to lay out instruments or scarves that vary in color so clients can really work on this skill. The lyrics are: “I see green, green, green. Find the green!” I repeat these two sentences a few times and if the individual was able to identify the color correctly, I sing “You found green!”. If the individual needs a little more time or is struggling to focus and remember the color I start to sing “find green, find green, can you find green” and finally ending with “you found green!” This song is great because it can be adapted to almost anything you are asking a kiddo to identify! If you are interested in hearing a recording of this song, send an email to!

Motor Skills

When I am working with young kiddos on motor skills I like to utilize songs they might already be familiar with like “The Wheels on the Bus”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. I encourage parents, teachers, or any other caregivers to sing these songs slowly at first so that the focus is on the motor movements, whether that is fine or gross motor movements. If things are slowed down to a speed where individuals will be successful, they are more motivated and excited to engage and participate. As the kiddos start to gain more skills in this area of focus, feel free to increase the speed little by little!

Check out these websites for more information:

National Down Syndrome Society –

American Music Therapy Association Fact Sheet –


If you have any questions based on this month’s topic, feel free to send an email to

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