Music and Visuals, A Key to Success with Speech Difficulties

Think about it. What happens if I sing “A, B, C, D, E, F… ?’ What do you do in your head if I play seven notes of a scale ” Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti… ,” and I leave out the last note? Do you not fill it in in your head? What happens when you hear a significant song from your teen years? Do you go back in time in your memory to either a particular event, time, or emotion?

Everyone who works with children with speech and language difficulties knows to use visuals, visuals, visuals, Yes, they certainly help. Using another sense helps not only to integrate but also distracts from the pressure we put on ourselves to get it right. When you couple a visual with a repeatable, predictable tune, its effects can demonstrate a quicker response with much less effort. Did you know it has been proven that when you put a motor task, such as exercise or appropriate music, reduces the effort the individual needs to perform the task be 15%? Talking is a motor skill. Why not utilize music, then? We are all musical beings. From birth, we hum first, vocalize next, babble, then talk. Toddlers with absolutely no training spontaneously compose their own songs often. Shut off the critical part of your mind and just try it. Use a tune to help your child or client get the words out. This lessens their effort by 15%. Allow the child to automatically have the last word.

I often play with young children who have speech difficulties, singing the same tune over and over in their play, and then begin to leave out a single word. The child uses the subject, the play, and I insert the tune. As far as the child ins concerned, we are just playing together. A simple tune adds to the playfulness. Pretty soon the child is using words, putting phrases together, and as time goes on, we drop some of the music so that now they can use this language without even realizing that they have learned it. I often call methods like these “coming in the back door.”

Come in the back door sometime. It is less formal, and has nor worries. Let me know how it turns out.

Antoinette Morrison



Good points! “Coming in the back door” ( I like that metaphor) in most experiences is also called sub-cortical learning or as others call them “teachable moments.” The client/student/patient doesn’t realize they’re learning when the focus is on the music that’s personally motivating and fun. As we’ve all seen in MT, the message goes into long-term storage and is much easier to retrieve with this powerful association to music…at any age. The key to the “back door” is our individual challenge and so worth finding! It’s like a good golf shot or a great piece of chocolate to discover this music connection with each person.


Thank you for the more scientific term.When working with children, and explaining to parents what is going on, when it may not seem obvious, they like this phrase. Knowing the true scientific term is much more helpful when talking about funding though. Thank you!


Victoria, I knew absolutely nothing about computers when I
I started. I took a web site design class from Kat Fullton at Music Therapy and followed her lead. I did design my own using word-press.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *