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Musical Remedy

JaJar Suwannakul combines science and music to help underprivileged members of society

Musical Remedy is a research and community service project aimed to help neurodiverse children develop their social, emotional and cognitive skills through musical and artistic activities. It was co-founded by RIS high school student Nannaphat (JaJar) Suwannakul, who was looking for a way to combine her passions for science and music to help underprivileged members of society, and Krittin (Kris) Hirunchupong, a concert pianist and cellist looking for a way to utilize his talents to help those with mental disabilities.

The project is aimed at children with learning disabilities, a disorder that affects a child’s ability to understand instructions, speak or write fluently, perform mathematical calculations, coordinate movements or concentrate on tasks for a certain amount of time. In Thailand, the number of students with learning disabilities in schools increased substantially from approximately 60,000 in 2015 to an estimated 250,000 in 2021. Furthermore, these figures accounted for only children enrolled in schools, while many others had parents unable to afford the cost of education or special needs care.

Students at the Camillian Home for Disabled Children and their drawings after completing their first music and art activity session

With this in mind, the founding presidents established and led a team of 15 musician volunteers, who contributed to the service project by producing music recordings for the Musical & Artistic Activity sessions. The sessions were conducted at the Camillian Home for Disabled Children from July to August 2021. The sessions were divided into three categories—instrumental, classical and pop music. All of the media produced and used in the study was posted on the Musical Remedy youtube channel. The Musical Remedy team also designed a study to compare the effectiveness of these three categories on extending the concentration time of children with LD, with the aim that it could open up new treatment opportunities or become valuable information for caretakers that are looking over these children.

Classical and pop recordings produced by Nannaphat (JaJar) Suwannakul and Krittin (Kris) Hirunchupong as media used in the Musical & Artistic Activity sessions.

Classical and pop recordings produced by Nannaphat (JaJar) Suwannakul and Krittin (Kris) Hirunchupong as media used in the Musical & Artistic Activity sessions.

In the Musical and Artistic Activity sessions conducted over the course of 4 weeks, each child was encouraged to draw and color an image of their choice for 30 to 40 minutes, which was kept as a controlled variable. The type of music played for each session (instrumental music, classical music and pop music) was the independent variable. The quantitative data gained from this study was the comparison between time spent on their task and the presence of multi-tasking while working on their drawings. The drawings produced from the sessions (qualitative data) were collected and analyzed by Asst. Prof. Dr. Supalak Khemthong, whose doctoral research degree is in occupational therapy.

Quantitative data shows a decrease in multitasking when students were exposed to instrumental music
When exposed to instrumental music, quantitative data shows a percentage increase in the total time students spent on their assigned tasks by 15 to 20 minutes

The study’s findings suggest that the three music genres differ distinctly in terms of effectively extending the concentration time of children with LD. Overall, instrumental music was the most effective in increasing concentration time, while pop music was the least effective and led to some signs of deterioration in concentration. With this conclusion, the Musical Remedy team aims to continue advocating and encouraging the use of instrumental music to alleviate the symptoms of children with LD all over Thailand.