This is my first post as an intern at MTCCA and I’m excited to share with others the amazing things I’m learning about music therapy and the work that we do!
Today we were talking about speech and language development through music. Music is an amazing tool to help develop and enhance language skills of kids and adults of all backgrounds. Because of the inherent structural qualities in music, like tempo & rhythm, melody, and repetitions of sections or verses, our brains and bodies can quickly connect with what we are hearing, oftentimes without even thinking about it! One of the reasons the brain work so well in the context of music is because once we connect with a rhythm and structure of a song we can anticipate what is coming next and we want there to be a resolution to our anticipation.
Here is a cool example of anticipation in music lead by the multi-talented speaker and musician, Bobby McFerrin. Watch for what happens at the 38 second mark!
Now, this example does not have to do specifically with speech and language, but it is a good example of how we respond to music when we are anticipating what should be next. Because music is fun and engaging for so many individuals, they are motivated to work to keep the music or the singing going. So for a child who is engaged in music making, but has difficulties with speech or language, we will often sing a line or phrase they know well except for the last word and pause the music until they verbalize that target word, then the music continues. For example, “Up above the world so_____, like a diamond in the _____,” and so on. This prompt is very basic, but it can work as a foundation for children who are learning how and when to give appropriate responses, producing accurate articulation, making eye contact and watching for cues, and so much more!
That’s my realization of the day! Stay tuned for more interesting thoughts and information about music therapy in our next post!
-Michelle “Toby” Tobias