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What'd Ya Say? Wednesdays: Music and Speech Therapy

23 January 2013

I recently came across the article "Musical Strategies" that was archived from the magazine Advance. It was published in November 2012 and written by Louise Patrick, PhD , detailing the incorporation of music into children's speech therapy programs. 

Despite the ever-growing reductions in education funding taking out extra programs like music and art, there is a greater need for children to receive therapy within the school system. Without a doubt, this includes speech therapy. But how can SLPs keep children entertained while learning and expanding their speech abilities? One idea, brought up by Dr. Parker, is the possibility of bringing music into it; after all, children love music.

She brings up a good point that children don't necessarily need to know the lyrics; they just need to have a basis of sounds which they can mimic to practice sounds found in language. One such example was that of animal noises. They have different contour patterns and inflections that children can use as a foundation for when they start building morphemes and utterances. So, they don't actually need to learn the words, rather the shapes of the sounds that form the words, which can be facilitated through musical lyrics. But, she also notes that we can use "snippets" from songs to help provide them a repetitive pattern to echo back and build on. This is especially helpful for special needs speech therapy clients.

Another idea is to use songs that pay tribute to a particular sound or phoneme that you want to emphasize. For instance, she mentions using the song Miss Mary Mack, as it includes something physical (clapping) and focuses on "m". Focusing on a phonological aspect and adding other motor or cognitive tasks can help a child flourish and maintain their attention on the activity more. And of course the music just adds more fun!

I think one of the best parts of this job is the ability to be creative with therapy plans. Adding music is an innovative idea that can help speech therapists in their quest of helping others find their voice. This can prove especially helpful with groups of kids, as they all can sing together and support one another. Plus, who doesn't love music and some silly dancing or lyrics! Speech therapists should try to find a way to incorporate this into their program, whether it be at schools or even medical facilities! Just look up "music therapy" images on Google, and you'll find a plethora of hospital and elderly patients utilizing music therapy (whether speech-related or not).

If you'd like more information about her ideas for music and it's role in speech therapy, then check out the article right here.