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Music and Speech: How are these forms of communication related?
There are many similarities between speech/language and music. For example, in both speech and music, frequency, duration, and timbre elements unfold over time to convey a message. Both of these communication tools utilize prosodic information, such as inflection and phrasing, to help portray the meaning of this message (Donnelly, 2001).
The musical aspects of language include melodic contour, timbre variations, motherese or infant-directed speech, rhythm, and nonverbal aspects of language.
Because these forms are so closely related, a successful collaboration of two therapies related to music and speech — Speech-Language Pathology and Music Therapy — would be extremely beneficial for the client.
What is Speech-Language Pathology?
According to the ASHA Website,
Working with the full range of human communication and its disorders, speech-language pathologists (SLPs):
- Evaluate and diagnose speech, language, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders
- Treat speech, language, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly
- Examples of speech and language disorders: Articulation disorders, phonological disorders, speech/language impairment, and/or receptive/expressive language difficulty. Additionally, the SLP may work on expressive or receptive language difficulties related to a hearing loss (client may be wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant).
According to the AMTA Website,
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.
So, why would music therapy services be beneficial in terms of SLP collaboration?
Knowing that one auditory training task could transfer to and enhance other auditory activities, there are many implications for using music therapy to address language and speech goals.
- Oral motor skills
- Speech articulation
- Language Acquisition
- Length of Utterance
- Social Skills
- Language concepts
- …and more!
Pairing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) strategies with musical strategies has also been shown to help with social communication skills (Herman 1985). Signing and manual communication systems can be used to express song lyrics and signs paired with singing can be used together for total communication experiences (Darrow, 1987a). Studies have shown that children with autism learned more signs when they were paired with music and speech than when they were taught with music alone or speech alone (Buday, 1995).
Other methods to incorporate speech and language goals and music may include:
- Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT)
- Speech Stimulation (STIM)
- Therapeutic Singing (TS)
In order to incorporate and implement some of the patient’s speech goals into the music therapy session, collaboration is a necessity. According to Register (2002), of the 695 music therapists questioned, 44.6% said that they collaborate with SLPs. Collaborating with the family, educators, doctors, speech pathologists, psychologists, therapists, social workers and other professionals that are involved in the patient’s daily life is key to their language-learning success (Rychener Hobson, 2006). Making sure everyone is on the same page and supporting the patient’s needs with a wide variety of specialties and activities can truly make an impact on the patient’s improvement.