Music and Speech Therapy

By Pranali Shah MS, CF-SLP

Music can be an extremely beneficial treatment for speech therapy. Music activates all areas of the brain simultaneously. For children, music can promote language development, improve speech production, improve memory and spatial-temporal learning.

According to the American Music Therapy Association:

“Music therapy is an evidence-based, allied health profession that uses music interventions to accomplish individualized goals.  Through musical responses, the board-certified therapist assesses emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills.  Specifically, regarding communication, music therapists are trained to adapt elements of music (e.g. tempo, rhythm, melody, harmony, and texture) to promote effective expressive and receptive communication skills.”

How music can help in speech therapy:

  1. Auditory Stimulation: Music and/or sing-song speech can expand the brain’s ability to process information.
  2. Sing-Song Speech: Singing or chanting phrases can help individuals with speech difficulties by providing a structured and rhythmic way to practice speech sounds and patterns. This method is particularly effective for children with autism and other developmental disorders. For example: Singing nursery rhymes could be a great way to promote verbal communication skills as well as gestures.
  3. Breath Control and Voice Modulation: Singing exercises can enhance breath control, pitch, volume, and intonation, which are crucial components of effective speech. Musical intonation can thus complement speech therapy for multiple communication disorders (i.e., stuttering, language production, voice modulation, and intonation).
  4. Emotional Expression: Music provides a safe and expressive outlet for emotions, which can be beneficial for individuals struggling with social communication skills. Expressing emotions through music can translate to more effective verbal communication.

 

Numerous case studies highlight the transformative impact of integrating music and speech therapy. For instance, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often show remarkable improvements in social communication and speech when exposed to music-based interventions. Similarly, stroke survivors with aphasia can regain speech capabilities more rapidly through melodic intonation therapy.

 

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