Last week in “Apraxia 101,” we had a wonderful opportunity to sit down and listen to Ms. Emily Sevcik, MT-BC (www.milestonemusictherapy.com) talk about just how important the connection between speech and music is. In fact, the language of music has been around since the beginning of time…since mothers were singing lullabys to their babies and prior to all of that, music was indeed a stepping stone to verbal communication.
So, what exactly is music therapy? Well, it’s the use of music and music experience to attain non-musical goals–such as motor, cognitive, social, emotional, and speech communication.
How is it used? Singing, playing insturments, moving to music/dance, and even songwriting qualifies as music therapy.
Why does music work? According to Kimberly Sena Moore, MM, NMT-F, MT-BC (May 2010 article, www.pediastaff.com), it works for these reasons:
1. Music is a core function of the brain. Our brains are wired to respond to music, as proven in various studies on babies as young as one day.
2. Our bodies entrain to music. That is, we move to a rhythm without thinking much about it…tapping our toes to the beat, for example is usually an unconscious movement.
3. Children generallyrespond well to music.
4. Music shares neural circuits with speech.
5. Music enhances learning. For example, the ABC song helps kids memorize the letters in the alphabet. Try it with other things your kids are expected to know/remember like their phone number, address, or spelling words!
6. Music is predictable, structured, and organized. Think of a favorite song. There is a verse that is different followed by the chorus that is usually the same everytime.
7. Music helps improve attention skills.
8. Music is a non-invasive, safe and motivating intervention–plus, it’s FUN!
What parents can do at home to encourage speech along with music is really very simple. Encourage your child to dance to the beat, clap his hands when the song mentions a certain word or phrase. Participate in fill-in-the-blank singing….”Old McDonald had a____”, practice repeat-after-me style of singing, try to sing a scale with your child by going really high and then really low with your voice. Can your child imitate you? Have your child imitate musical instrument sounds–you play the kazoo and then have your child play the kazoo in the same manner you did, likewise for other insturments like drums, cymbals, and maracas.
You may even be interested in some music CDs that have been designed especially with kids who have CAS in mind. Look for these titles:
See Katie’s website, a music therapist and mother of a daughter with CAS for more information or to purchase this CD. www.singoutonline.com
***BETTER YET—Tell other blog readers what you’ve done with your child with CAS to enhance speech through music. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just honest : ) And I will send you a brand-new/unopened copy of SING OUT!! Type out your ideas in the comment section–including how well your child responded–and I will draw the winner at random by the end of the week, October 15th. The winner–and his/her child will be mentioned on 10-18-10.