The great thing about music therapy is that when the client's are engaged in the music, they often forget that they are doing work! The brain cannot process information when it is stressed, so music can be a stress reducer and allow the brain to take in more information. Between pitch, rhythm, and lyrics, their are constantly new ways to explore music and create new experiences. Clients also have an opportunity to try new things and they are set up for success in creating their own music or inputting their own ideas. In addition, music is providing alternate neuro pathways in learning.
I am not a speech pathologist. I do work with them in my job in the schools. I do know that speech is complicated. Our brain is very busy when we listen to speech and say it ourselves. In order to process one word like "hello," our brain has to:
- "catch" all of the sounds (h, e, l, oh)
- learn each sound,
- learn how to recreate each sound,
- put them in order
- store them in memory
- know the meaning behind the word (hello is a greeting you say when you see someone)
Here are a few ways to try music at home to encourage speech using music.
Sing familiar songs and have the child fill in the last word of a line. The last word of a line is often a point in the music that compels a person to sing/hum the last pitch. A very basic example is, "Row row row your boat gently down the _______. Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a _______." It feels very strange to leave off the last word.
Pick a vowel sound and sing it to a familiar tune. I often use Little Bitty Pretty One. Oh oh oh oh oh or ah ah ah ah ah.
Pick a sound or syllable to practice such as "ba," "do," or "me" and sing it to a familiar tune instead of the lyrics. ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba baaaa.
This is much easier on our auditory tracking. Our brain has time to "catch" the sound being heard and learn the sound because it's only two sounds rather than the large number of sounds that fill up a sentence. For instance, "Row row row your boat gently down the stream" has about 19 different sounds that the brain has to sequence and put in order after catching each one. In the word "row," it catches the "r" sound and the "ow" sound and puts it in order. Our brains do a lot of work to make a sentence!
Sequence 2 or 3 sound together (after mastering example 3) and sing it to a familiar tune. For example, "ba bee ba bee ba bee." When that is mastered change the consonant in the second syllable, but use the same vowel again (ba da ba da ba da). The next step may be to do two different consonants and two different vowels (ba de ba de ba de).
Have opportunities to break up syllables in words by tapping them out. I frequently use this for rate of speech. One student I worked with had unintelligible speech because of articulation and also how fast she tried to fly through her words. Having her tap out each syllable on her leg helped tremendously. When I demonstrated tapping while I spoke, she was also able to better hear each sound of each syllable. I highly recommend this for rate of speech and articulation. Use drums, shakers, and other creative ways to make sounds.
If breath support is an issue, try having the children try out recorders and then kazoos.
Songs that have Repeated Syllables
Lemondrops and Gumdrops (ah, ah ah)
Little Bitty Pretty One
Menahmena (Sesame Street)
Down on Grandpa's Farm (animal sounds that echo)
Little Green Frog (Ah Ah said the little green frog)
Runaround Sue (hey)
Crocodile Rock (la...la la la la la)
Biddy Biddy (Music Together)
Stick Tune (Music Together)
Do Wah Diddy
Ooh EE Ooh Ah Ah
Trashin the Camp- Tarzan Soundtrack