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  • Writer's pictureAnita Connell

Music aids communication & speech

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

As music therapists, we regularly see how creating music and song in response to someone's sounds, gestures and body movement can support communication and language development.

Singing and speaking are natural pathways for human expression as they share the common elements of melody, rhythm, articulation and phrasing. These elements are exaggerated during singing (Cohen, 1992; Tamplin & Baker, 2017) and improvisational music-making.

Music is processed throughout a global network of cortical and subcortical brain structures, with strong connections in the limbic system’s emotional core. Neural pathways explain why some people can sing when they can't speak.

Music therapy is therefore uniquely placed to support communication goals in individuals who may have difficulty processing and responding to traditional speech therapy methods.

In our programs, we use the constructs of music to elicit responses. We improvise with

  • Tone and pitch to reflect personal responses

  • Open-ended phrases and musical pauses to encourage a sound or response

  • Melody to reflect the intonation of speech and support the extension of phrases

  • Rhythmic play to enhance syllabic speech sounds

  • Wind instruments to enhance oral motor skills

When at home, we encourage you to make music, sing and incorporate silly sounds, exaggerated gestures and humour to encourage communication skills and speech development.

Here's a song to help you do just that!

A perfect blend of elements for improvising sounds and imitating each other. You can sing along with the actual track or create your own lines. We're singing it right now!

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