Music as a Speech Therapy Tool
The demand for speech services is continuing to grow, especially in regards to pediatric patients. Because of this, many practices and schools are looking for additionally treatment methods to help supply the demand. One of the most successful pairings is between music therapy and speech therapy. Alternatively, many speech therapists are using music as a component of their practice.
Collaborative medical efforts are not new. Many specialists work together to provide the treatment necessary for their patients. Within a therapeutic setting, however, it has been a little more unusual. Speech therapists may work with physical therapists or occupational therapists within the practice but musical therapy has tended to be separate.
According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”
One of the primary functions of music therapy is to improve communication and express emotions. It can also be used to enhance wellness, alleviate pain, manage stress, improve memory, and facilitate physical rehabilitation. It is easy to see how these goals are similar to those of speech therapy patients. Working closely with a musical therapist can increase the amount of interaction the patient is receiving and provide multiple avenues of sensory stimulation to help the patient achieve their speech and communication goals.
A key component in successful collaboration is communication. It is imperative that both therapists have a clear understanding of the patient’s goals and are working towards those goals as a team. Meetings to develop these goals and to monitor progress will help ensure appropriate changes are made as needed, and any techniques that are not working do not continue to be utilized.
Music in Speech Therapy
Music can also be beneficial within the confines of a speech therapy session. Music can help students relax and become more open to the learning experiences required for therapeutic speech integration. Music is similar to speech in many ways, as they both give rhythm, pitch, and timbre as central components.
When using music to promote speech and language acquisition, the therapist is able to simultaneously use visual cues to reinforce the verbal concepts being expressed. The repetition of music can also make it easier for some patients to remember the concepts they are learning. Once a patient becomes familiar with a song, it can also be used to concentrate on specific sounds or words, as is done with songs such as “B-I-N-G-O” and “Old McDonald.” Wording and letter choices can be changed as appropriate to many familiar tunes.
As the need for speech-language services increases, it is important to look for additional ways to provide services for students, since not every tactic works for every case. Introducing music into sessions or collaborating with a musical therapist can give patients access to additional treatment time and improve their outcome.