The MELODY Project – Music Enhanced Learning Opportunities for Developing Youth

Under the auspices of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, Dr. Istvan Molnar-Szakacs and collaborators are developing MELODY - a research program that harnesses the universal power of music to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) overcome their difficulties in social and emotional communication.  

The ability to enjoy music is a universal human trait - we relate to music spontaneously and effortlessly.  Music also has the powerful and unique ability to awaken emotions, trigger memories, and to intensify our social experiences.  These qualities give music extraordinary potential as a research, educational and therapeutic tool, and yet little research has examined the power of music to alleviate human illness and suffering.  Individuals with ASD are known to experience difficulties with the communication and understanding of emotion, such as difficulties in interpreting emotion from facial expressions.  In contrast, both behavioral and anecdotal evidence suggest that individuals with ASD show less difficulty identifying emotion in musical stimuli, presenting an interesting disassociation between these different types of emotional communication. 

Music Enhanced Learning Opportunities for Developing Youth (MELODY) aims to harness the universal power of music to help children with ASD overcome their difficulties in social and emotional communication by:

  1. studying the brain bases of socio-emotional deficits using neuroimaging techniques
  2. developing a music-based therapeutic intervention to teach children emotion recognition skills
  3. conducting quantitative and qualitative evaluations of music education programs for children with special needs.


Support the MELODY project

To support our work with your tax-deductible donation, please visit The Friends of the Semel Institute’s website, the support group for The Semel Institute, and click on “Donate Here” at the top of the page. This will direct you to a secure website. Please designate the amount of your donation and be sure to write “MELODY” in the Comments section, so that your donation will go directly to our program. Your donation will be used to support the development of the MELODY program and will help improve the lives of these special children with ASD and their families. Thank you!



The Grammy Foundation The Help Group Development by Design - Play for Children of all needs and abilities The Friends of Semel Cher & Gene Klosner