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Dynamic Lynks Blog

They Say the Neon Lights are Bright on Broadway

As a music therapist-theater nerd hybrid, and with the Tony’s gracing our presence Sunday evening, I figured it was the perfect time to share some Broadway inspired music therapy interventions.

Me at age 3. Music and Movement has been a huge part of my life ever since then, and probably even before!

I wanted to put all of the interventions I came up with into one post, but that would have been ten pages long! Instead, I have decided to do a 5-week series of interventions from different clinical domains using Broadway songs.

These interventions are geared toward children with autism, but can be adapted for many different ages and clinical populations. This weeks’ post includes 2 interventions that work on communication goals. Specific objectives include initiating speech sounds (respiration and phonation), volume of speech (resonance), consonant articulation, full-word articulation, and fluency.

Intervention #1:

One of the most memorable lines from this song is “Ya got trouble, right here in River City. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool!” I looked at that line and thought; “I can use this for learning letters and consonant articulation” because I am a 100% passionate music therapy nerd and this is how my brain works.

First, you will want to print out (or draw on a white board) a large letter T and one other letter that rhymes with T such as P, B, V, D, C, Z, E, and G. The letters you use will obviously depend on your clients’ current level of articulation and letter identification skill. Bilabial consonants such as P and B will generally be the easiest to start with, based on my education, experience, and knowledge of speech-language development.

Second, print out pictures of animals, cars, flowers (anything of client interest) that start with the letters you will be working on that day. In the example below, I used a picture of a ball to hold up when I sang “ball” so the client could match the picture of the ball with the word ball.

Third, you get to sing! I decided to modify the song and change some of the lyrics. Here is what I ended up with: “Ya got trouble, right here in Chicago! With a capital “T” and that rhymes with “B” and that stands for ball!” You can add your own verse based off the original song then repeat the chorus again using a different letter and image to rhyme with “T”. You can then have the client work on any of the following.

Specific Objectives:

  1. Letter identification: Clients can simply identify the letters T and B as they are sung by pointing to the letters on the board or on paper.

  2. Full-word identification: Clients can identify the item sung in the lyrics. In this example, they would identify a picture of a “Ball” to match the word to the image.

  3. Consonant articulation: Clients can practice articulating the “T” and “B” consonants. You can slow down and pause the song to have the clients work on this with verbal cueing. “Ya got trouble, right here in Chicago! With a capital ‘T’ (say ‘T’ ‘T’ ‘T’) and that rhymes with ‘B’ (say ‘B’ ‘B’ ‘B’)” and so on.

  4. Full-word articulation: Clients can work on articulating full words through speaking the last line of the lyrics. In this example, clients would practice articulating the word “ball.” You can cue this by building up to that last line and pausing before you actually sing the word.

Some of these steps may seem like common sense to you music therapists and other clinical practitioners, but I wanted to provide a modified session plan so parents can try to use these techniques and skills at home. I love helping parents work on skills in the home that we are working on in therapy!

Intervention #2:

Hamilton is arguably one of the greatest musicals of all time, so I HAD to include it in this list. While not all of the songs are appropriate, there are a lot of ways to use music from this incredible show. “Take a Break” features a rap by Alexander Hamilton’s Son, Phillip. The rap goes a little something like this (beginning at 1:20):

“My name is Philip I am a poet I wrote this poem just to show it And I,

just turned nine You can write rhymes but you can’t write mine I practice French and play piano with my mother I have a sister, but I want a little brother My daddy’s trying to start America’s bank Un deux trois quatre cinq!”

For this intervention you will need a computer or iPad with the Garage Band program. This intervention is for clients who have a higher level of language acquisition and are working on speech intelligibility and fluency goals, or who need to accelerate or slow-down their rate of speech.

First, play the above excerpt of the song for the client. Help the client identify specific things the rapper was talking about in the song. This will help when they have to come up with their own lyrics and ideas.

Second, have the client create a short beat on garage band. They can do this using smart drums, a cool keyboard sound effect, etc.

Third, help the client write a rap about him/herself. The rap can include facts about themselves, things they are interested in, family members, whatever tickles their fancy.

Fourth, have the client speak the rap over the beat they created on Garage Band. What I LOVE about this application is that you can adjust the beats per minute (bpm), which helps the client with their rate of speech. IF the client is comfortable, you can record their rap over the beat and make a complete song that they can keep and continue to practice.

Specific Objectives:

  1. Articulation: You can decrease the bpm on the garage band beat so the client can work on proper articulation and pronunciation of each word.

  2. Fluency: You can increase the bpm on the garage band beat so clients can increase their rate of speech if they speak too slowly, or vice versa.

This intervention can also be used to work on cognitive goals such as attention or executive function skills. I love the diversity of these types of interventions because clients of all levels can benefit and enjoy the therapeutic experience!

I hope these 2 interventions give you ideas to use in your practice or in your home. Please leave a comment or email me if you try one of the above interventions, and let me know how it goes!

Stay tuned for week 2 of our Broadway series where I will be focusing on interventions for cognitive development!

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