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Monkeys Jumping on The Bed: Rhythm, Language, and Melody

Music and language attaches memory, emotions, and meaning for us. We may hum, sing, dance, or simply listen to it. Many childhood songs were played with such repetition and motion that adults are able to remember the words and tunes well into later years. An article published in the American Speech and Language Journal in 2016 looked at how musical activities when used actively in learning experiences involves the whole child through incorporation of rhythm, movement, and speech. Music is valuable in the development of speech in children. It is effective as a motivator, a tool for repetition, and also a mnemonic device for learning and memory (i.e. The Alphabet Song). Speech has musical qualities of its own-natural rhythms, melodies, accents, and phrasing, etc so simple melodies and music interventions can generalize quite effectively to everyday speaking. (Lacey Friesen, Music Therapist Intern, 2019) We have seen how when young children hear music their bodies respond to the beat and tune and they may even try to sing along. Facial expressions which are the nonverbal form of communication emerge. School aged children have music as a key component of their curriculum. Music is a form of expression and studies have shown that speech and language development is enhanced when music is used with children. When we attach language to a tune our memory pathways are stimulated and we are motivated to retain information. Melodic language provides an opportunity for an adult and children to participate jointly. Speech sounds can be developed and refined by repetition of a specific sound or sounds in music melody. Through this medium, rhyme, syllables, and initial sounds are learned and repeated. In our recent Social Skills Summer Camp Lacey showed us that one specific way music can be used to practice speech goals is through repetition: "Shake shake shake, shake your sillies out..." It is the repetition of the sounds that are combined to create words and then build phrases. One recent discovery is that parents are not singing as much to their children. Today, children are wrapped up in technology and screen time. Yes, this is essential for some children but it must be limited and monitored closely. While some may argue that they do not have "the voice" for singing, prerecorded music remains an option. A study presented in Sydney at the Early Childhood Australia Conference (Cameron & Dixon, 2018) discussed how children learning music activates language processing (thinking and recalling language), speech syllables (components of sound parts), auditory attention (listening), and working memory (holding information simultaneously).
Finally, Fall and Halloween are such rich themes to promote speech and language for all children and include: Describing words: foggy, mushy, splash splash; verbs such as raking and blowing; sounds through melody: ssssssh the leaves are falling or wooo goes the wind. Language structure in rhythmic tempo: "Here we go! CRUNCH, CRUNCH CRUNCHING, we are stomping through the lalah leaveszzzz!" Fall enhances all the senses; we see the changes through the fall colours, experience the changes in temperature and textures of the leaves, and hear the changes as the geese honk and the wind howls. It allows for a lot of fun and laughter with children. In closing here is a verse from a poem that highlights rhyme: The Ghost and Jenny Jenkins (say and sing it SLOW and SPOOKY)
From Dennis Lee

The clock struck one, The clock struck two, The ghost came playing Peekaboo Hu-OOO! Hu-OOO!

Lacey Friesen is a music therapist intern who has collaborated with Penko & Associates (Lacey Friesen, music therapist intern, 2019).

Maureen Penko is a Speech Language Pathologist. In addition to her experience in working in the school and medical systems, she is in private practice. Pre-school and School-aged children are seen. For more information call Penko & Assciates at 204-510-7556 or contact them by e-mail.

Feature Articles:

2019 Halloween Happenings

Parents' Guide to a Memorable and Safe Halloween

Staying Connected With Your Partner While Raising Children

Monkeys Jumping on The Bed: Rhythm, Language, and Melody

Talking Turkey with Your Child's Teacher

3 Back-to-School Homework Tips Every Parent Must Have

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