Music intervention pilot study
Assessing teaching methods of group marimba classes designed to train spatial skills of older adults experiencing changes in cognition
Keywords:Spatial mapping, older adults, cognition, music classes
Older adults facing cognitive challenges may face a decline in spatial skills and as a result may become less confident in navigating their environment. Spatial training has been shown to help ease this decline, and engaging in music has been shown to benefit the spatial skills of musicians. There is a paucity of research investigating ways that music might serve as spatial training for older adults. This study explored music classes as a means of spatial training for older adults across three domains; 1. improving their success rates in staying spatially oriented on the instrument; 2. enhancing their ability to read written music and 3. in reaching better outcomes on a spatial orientation test taken at pre- and post-intervention. Our team developed and tested a 6-week marimba class that targeted spatial training principles for older adults with predementia or early dementia. We assessed the spatial skills with the Orientation Test from the Test of Visual Perceptual Skills pre- and post-intervention. Scores increased an average of 0.71, a clinically meaningful change (d = 0.3). Participants also demonstrated high frequencies of remaining oriented on the instrument. There was also higher incidence of participants’ self-selecting to read music without notes (p < 0.01) over the course of the intervention.
Future research might benefit from music-based training as a means to support spatial skills during cognitive decline.
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