Saturday, February 18, 2017

Using Music in Speech-Language Pathology

One of my all time favorite things to incorporate into my pediatric therapy sessions is music! Sometimes I feel pretty bad for my patients because honestly I can’t carry a tune. However, some of my best therapy sessions have happened when using music and songs.
Using music in therapy can help target a wide variety of goals including articulation, expressive language, and receptive language. I have found during these sessions that my patients feel like they are having more fun rather than “doing work.”

Some of my favorite pediatric songs include the following:

1.     “If you’re happy and you know it.”

I like to add in my own twist when singing this song and give a variety of directions. For example when I am targeting a simple 1-step direction I might sing, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!” Then if I am targeting a 2-step direction I might sing, “If you’re happy and you know it stop your feet, and wiggle your fingers!” To make the directions even more complex I can add in a temporal direction such as, “If you’re happy and you know if jump up and down after you touch your nose!” This song is so fun, interactive, and gets the kids moving!

2.     Cha Cha Slide

When working with some of my older pediatric patients I like to use the “Cha Cha Slide.” This song is usually played at weddings; it is a super fun line-dance style song that incorporates dance moves and great linguistic concepts such as “front, back, side, right, and left.”

3.     The Wheels on the Bus

I also enjoy using classic songs like “The Wheels on the Bus.” Although this song doesn’t give a specific direction to follow, it allows for imagination, imitation, and recruitment of reasoning skills. For example, if I were to sing “The baby on the bus goes wa-wa-wa,” and the child didn’t interact immediately, I could ask “What would that look like, a baby crying wa-wa-wa?”

My adult patients are a little bit more challenging to use music directly in therapy however I have my piano available for vocal function exercises. Music is also the basis for melodic intonation therapy sometimes used for individuals with aphasia. I know other speech-language pathologists that like to utilize songs as a memory task!

It can be difficult to plan a session around music. I suggest utilizing the Pandora app, YouTube, or finding other resources such as It is important to keep in mind that as speech-language pathologists we are using music as a tool but we are not certified music therapists! If you are interested in music therapy certification take a look at

How do you use music in your therapy sessions?


  1. Very interesting Mallory! I am a golf instructor and sometimes a golf lesson is like a therapy session. I may start incorporating music into my lessons. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Thanks for the informative article. There are few well-known Speech Therapy Clinic in Kolkata who provide speech language therapy. Looking forward to more informative articles from you.

  3. Great work! Thanks for sharing such useful information. I have found some interesting info on speech therapy centre in Kolkata.