Speech and Language


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


Cadence – Balanced, rhythmic flow, as of poetry or oratory.

When first thinking of what I was going to write about when I got the blog topic “cadence,” I realized that, though I’ve heard the word many times before, I wasn’t exactly sure how to define the word. As musicians, the first thing that tends to pop into our minds is a IV-V-I progression, or perhaps a marching band cadence. When I hear the word, I can still imagine my high school’s marching band playing a cadence while marching in a parade. A cadence, however, can also be something out of language and poetry. A cadence in language is usually a change of inflection of the voice to show the end of a sentence or stanza in poetry. Whether it is a cadence you see in a piece of music, poetry, or literature, a cadence is always something that is used to create structure, rhythm, balance, and flow.

Since beginning my internship with MTCCA, a cadence has taken on a somewhat new meaning for me. Though it’s still a tool to create structure and flow, we also use it in a much different, more personal way. Every person has their own personal cadence, or a natural pace in which that person moves and interacts with their environment. Even though cadences are constantly changing with a person’s mood or health, they can still be measured and used to provide an extra sense of stability or comfort. Adapting music to match a client’s specific mood and pace can make a world of difference for a client’s attention and sensory regulation. It’s one of the many therapeutic tools I have learned to utilize so far in this internship.

A cadence is something that exists in music, literature, poetry, art, and even ourselves. It can used to create structure, rhythm, and flow in our music and literature, but it can also be used to create stability and flow in someone’s life.