Music has always been a big part of my life. As an SLP I frequently integrate music into my sessions, and my students love it! I like to sing silly songs, make up songs about words, and sing to emphasize a point. I have always been fascinated with how music can complement and support our treatment.
It is well documented that music is the foundation of communication. Music therapist Rachel Smith points out that there are similarities between music and language, including:
- Music and language are universal and specific to humans.
- Both have pitch, rhythm, and durational features.
- Spontaneous speech and spontaneous singing typically develop within infants at approximately the same time.
- Music and language have auditory, vocal, and visual uses (both use written systems) and are built on structure and rules.
I’ve always found that music is a great language facilitator for all ages and supports a range of children’s developmental milestones. Early language development is naturally supported by singing nursery rhymes to young children, as there are limited key words and lots of repetition to encourage imitation. Music is fun and motivating and therefore contributes to social development and rehabilitation. Big kids also enjoy listening to songs and analyzing lyrics, an activity that builds vocabulary and inferencing skills.
In addition to language activities, I also use music :
- As a timer. Instead of setting five minutes on a traditional timer I choose a song that is roughly five minutes and tell students that they have until the end of the song to complete a task.
- To self-regulate. Calming someone who is agitated so that they could more readily engage and interact with others
- To encourage students. Many of my students request songs. If a student is on task and completing their work I’ll normally play or sing their request. If a student is having difficulty controlling their behaviors, I make them a deal. Stay in control for x number of minutes (or any other objective) and then I’ll play your song.and let them know that this was their final chance to study before we took the test.
It is so great to be able to pick up my phone or tablet and access music to use as part of a lesson. I must also admit that I am a Spotify addict. (Spotify is free to set up, but I have premium access.) I love that you can create your own playlist to use in lessons as well as access playlists made by others. Here are my favorite Spotify playlists that I like to use in speech therapy lessons:
This playlist by Social Thinking® features five songs from their My Hero Inside music CD (there are 8 more on the CD). The songs are a perfect complement to the Superflex® curriculum. Lyrics can be found here.
Do you use music in your speech & language lessons? What songs or playlists would you recommend?