Learning the Foundation of Speech Through Music

Published by Sara Chigani on: Nov 02, 2021 — Behavior Ideas & Modifications, General MT Tools & Info, Social Skills & Feelings

Hello! I’ve been on a bit of a break for the last several months as I was on maternity leave. I am the proud mother to a wonderful 6-month-old who keeps my life busy, to say the least! As a first-time mom, and a music therapist, I was happy (although not surprised) to have every nurse and pediatrician we saw say, “sing to her.” While I was pregnant, I did my best to sing a few songs, that I love, as often as I could. Then after my daughter was born, those same songs became part of our bedtime routine. Now at 5 months old, when she hears those songs, she often looks up at me and smiles. Not only does it melt my heart, but it’s confirmation that she knows and remembers those songs. The connection between music and language development is undeniable. In addition to building our bond together, singing to her was/is my way of communicating to her.

It’s no secret that babies love music, but through music they learn the foundation of speech. Let’s take the song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”, for example. Think about the action we do when singing the song, we point to what we’re singing about. In doing that, we are showing kids what we are singing about. But let’s take that song a bit further, in addition to learning new words, we are teaching kids the sounds of those words. If you think about the progression of speech, babies don’t start saying words one day, although that would be amazing, they start with sounds. Often, they start with sounds like, “ma, ba, pa, mm, ah, etc.”. Then once they are comfortable with those sounds, they put certain sounds together making various words like, “mama, papa, etc.”. The great thing about music is that it can be slowed down to emphasize those sounds, making it a little easier for babies and kids to hear and mimic. Additionally, by slowing down songs we can also build anticipation, which is a great way to get and keep a child’s attention.

By singing to your baby you can help him/her develop fundamental language skills that are essential to development. I created a supplemental graphic to briefly describe the specific skills music can help develop and quick examples of how music can be used to promote that skill. I hope this helps you see music from another perspective and just how important it is. As always, if you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Take care and enjoy singing!

Sara Chigani, MA, MT-BC

Speechies. (2014, October 16). 4 Ways Singing Promotes Language Development. https://thespeechies.com/singing-and-language-development/

Learn Language By Singing


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