Easy Ways You Can Use Music with Children with Special Needs

This video goes out to all of you non-musicians who are looking for ways to incorporate music into your work with a child or adolescent with special needs. I love these sing and read books because they take traditional kids songs, or traditional songs in general, and put them to book-format, like kids book-format, with lots of great pictures. They’re easy to sing along with and to follow along. They’re a wonderful bridge into music for non-musicians.

Let’s take a look at this video clip… I used a very slow rate of speech when I was reading the book to my client. This not only gives her a little more time to process this information but it allows me time to over articulate my words especially with consonants and drawing out vowels. I can really slow things down so that my client starts to see and hear how I form the words much more clearly.

When I wanted her to respond, I used a couple of different techniques. One is what I call an ‘anticipatory breath’ which is just like *gasps and pauses* and it creates this tension, this almost tangible tension, that gives a child a cue that it’s their turn to respond. I also use a ‘visual phonetic’ – drawing my finger across my lips, mmm, to illustrate visually and physically what the mouth does to create a word that begins with a ‘m’. I, of course, used wait time, allowing my client the time she needed to try to formulate the word we were working on. Another thing I love about these sing and read books is the visual supports that are all right there in front of you. Anytime you want a child to say a certain word, you can point to the picture on the page – it makes it very easy. I also use at a certain time a very over dramatic voice… “And the doctor said…” because this draws in the attention of the child and makes it more fun, can even be humorous, very dramatic. Once you have their attention and it’s fun, then it’s motivating and you can work on these challenging therapeutic goals.

We’ve talked about visual phonetics and I will give you a resource for that, a link, and the sing and read books, I’ll give you a link for that, too. Slowing speech down, being over dramatic, using that anticipatory breath, all those things can combine to a very successful, fun, musical experience for the child and also very therapeutic and can help them reach their goals.

I hope you found this helpful and please keep listening, keep watching, sign up for my newsletter. I look forward to posting more in the near future.

Thank you.

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