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Blog Series on SLP and MT Collaboration: Part 4

31 Aug

….And here it is!  The final installment of the SLP and MT Collaboration Blog Series!

I want to sincerely thank everyone for their comments, feedback, kudos, suggestions, retweets, etc.!  It has been a fun challenge to compile all of the information for these posts and I hope you have been able to learn at least one thing from them (even if it was just learning that I like to sneak a Vanilla Ice picture into a post every once in a while).

So, for “Part 4”, I am compiling a long list of documents, excel files, videos, and other downloadable materials I couldn’t fit into the previous three posts.

Enjoy the smorgasbord!

HEARING AID HANDOUTS (from the Better Hearing Institute)

Dealing with Resistance

How Hearing Aids Work


Collaboration Fact Sheet

Speech Sound Development Chart

Database of articles related to Music & Speech, MTs and SLPs

References on Cochlear Implants + Music & Speech

Powerpoint: Using Music to Support and Enhance Speech and Language in Children with Cochlear Implants

VISUALS/SESSION IDEAS — I am fully confident in the fact that music therapists could turn any of the following into a song :)

Learning Colors

Put these in bottle caps!

Expressive Reading Cards


Word Match

Word Families

Word Wheels

D-final words

Christmas Tree Word/Story Maps


The Science and Mathematics of Sound, Frequency, and Pitch





Knowing the development of language and how music may further enhance and support this development in typically developing, normal hearing patients, it is interesting to see how this information could be compared and applied to patients with communication disorders.  Because many patients with receptive or expressive language difficulties are learning new speech skills after the critical years for language development, it is necessary to support language skills as much and as early as possible in order to accelerate their language skills to those of their age-matched peers.  These speech and language skills, both expressive and receptive, can be integrated into the music therapy session.

Music is a format in which the targeted word, phoneme, or concept can be easily added and highlighted in a way that is repetitive – providing many opportunities for the patient to hear and practice certain speech or language goals – and motivational for the patient, especially if the intervention incorporates instruments, visuals, and songs that are set up in a way that is engaging for their individual tastes and interests.  It should be noted that not all patients with a communication disorder may benefit from music therapy treatment.  A music therapy assessment should be conducted to see if the student is a candidate for services.

In order to implement these songs into practice, it is essential that the music therapist works alongside other professionals that are involved in the patient’s life.  Through collaboration with speech pathologists, nurses, family members, psychiatrists, and other therapists, information can be gathered that could be crucial to the patient’s learning of language and speech.

Rachel See Smith, MA, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist with a B.A. in communication disorders from Truman State University and a M.A. in music therapy from the University of Iowa.  She currently works as an independent music therapy contractor in Austin, Texas, and maintains this informational music therapy blog and the online paper, “The Collaborative Therapist”.  To read about Rachel’s private practice, visit:

Blog Series on SLP and MT Collaboration: Part 3

26 Aug

The purpose of this blog series is to advocate for the collaboration of speech therapy and music therapy. 

(If you missed the list of the blog posts that will be included in this series, click here!)  

Part 3. Session Plans and Ideas!

(Don’t forget to take a look at all of the FREE downloads at the bottom of this post!!)

To bypass oodles of scrolling, I’ve put all of the ideas into one Powerpoint: Click here to view it:


(and don’t worry, you won’t be automatically downloading it…but the website will give you the option to do so, if you desire!)

Using songs that focus on enunciation and articulation can contribute to the patient’s phonological awareness and provide them with many opportunities to practice the phonemes on which they are focusing in their speech therapy sessions. For instance, if the patient is working on articulating the phoneme /b/, then the music therapist may choose a song such as, “Bubbles” (see link below) – a tune that focuses on /b/ in the initial position.  Embedded within the song are many repetitions and, therefore, opportunities for the patient to say and practice the letter /b/ (AND, you can use real bubbles!!) 

In addition to working on enunciation and articulation skills, music sessions can also support the patient’s learning of the sequencing of sounds, as well as listening and discriminating words within the songs (Zoller, 1991).  Auditory discrimination tasks, such as listening for when there is sound versus no sound, can be easily used in musical activities.  One such activity could involve the therapist playing musical instruments behind a barrier or screen while the patient is required to listen and focus their attention on when the sound is being played, or even, after practice, training, and time, be asked to identify which instrument is being played (see “The Instrument Game” below).

The patient’s AAC device, such as using signs or gestures, pointing to pictures in a communication book, or using a computer-based device with synthesized speech output, can all be utilized in the music intervention.  For example, the word “hello” can be recorded on the patient’s Big Mac button device, which can allow the patient to participate in the hello song, when cued.

It is important for the therapist to instill a sense of active listening in the patient, rather than just “looking”.  This shift in focus of attention can support the focused music listening.  Acoustic highlighting is another technique that should be considered when working with patients with communication disorders.  This consists of putting extra emphasis on the key words that the therapist wants the patient to hear.  By using visual clarifiers, the therapist can help the patient pair the sound and what word or object that sound represents – creating a clear, direct connection or relationship for the patient.

This information may have a better chance of being communicated to the patient through the use of slower speech, as a rapid rate of presenting acoustic information could be quite difficult for a patient with a receptive language disorder. However, while this is an important and appropriate communication technique, the speech should not be so slow that it becomes unnatural. Finally, the MT should give ample processing time for the patient to understand all of the complex speech skills that may be new to them (McConkey Robbins, 2000).

Other songs, ideas, and visuals:

The Instrument Game! – By Rachel Smith  (See slideshow for further explanation)

Brown Bear

Instrument visuals

Occupation visuals   (check out HOW I use them here)

Mary Wore a Red Dress visuals — I tweaked the original song a bit and added verses like, “Johnny wore a blue hat, blue hat, blue hat, Johnny wore a blue hat, all day long”.  THEN, you can have the kids look at another person in the group (encouraging eye contact, of course!) and leading the group in singing about what Suzy is wearing that day.  There are LOTS of things you can do with this song.

10 Little Speckled Frogs (this will always be one of my “back pocket” session ideas)


My Pinterest Pages:


Session Ideas

Collaborative Resources

Rachel See Smith, MA, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist with a B.A. in communication disorders from Truman State University and a M.A. in music therapy from the University of Iowa.  She currently works as an independent music therapy contractor in Austin, Texas, and maintains an informational music therapy blog, and the online paper, “The Collaborative Therapist”:  To read about Rachel’s private practice, visit: