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Serenna Wagner, Music Therapist and Director of This Inner Voice Music Therapy and Coaching
Find out more about how Music Therapy can help with speech

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is a research-based system of standardised clinical techniques that uses music and its elements (such as rhythm, melody, and harmony) to address cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions due to neurologic diseases or injuries. NMT is grounded in the neuroscience of music perception, production, and performance. It is used by Music Therapists who have specialist training from The Global Academy of Neurologic Music Therapists either on a one-to-one basis, or in collaboration with interdisciplinary teams to achieve therapeutic goals for individuals with neurological conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and autism spectrum disorder, among others.


One of the applications of NMT is to help people regain or develop speech. This can be achieved through various techniques, including:-

Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT): This technique utilises the melodic and rhythmic components of music to facilitate speech production in people with non-fluent aphasia (difficulty speaking due to brain injury). MIT is based on the observation that individuals with aphasia often retain the ability to sing even when they have difficulty speaking. During MIT, patients learn to intone (sing) simple phrases using a limited range of pitches and a specific rhythm, gradually transitioning to normal speech patterns as they progress.

Rhythmic Speech Cueing (RSC): This technique employs rhythmic cues to improve speech fluency in individuals with motor speech disorders, such as dysarthria (difficulty articulating words) or apraxia of speech (difficulty coordinating the movements required for speech). RSC uses external rhythmic stimuli (e.g., metronome or hand tapping) to help patients synchronise their speech with the rhythm, enhancing their motor control and timing during speech production.

Musical Speech Stimulation (MSS): This technique uses familiar songs or melodies to stimulate speech production and improve language recall in people with receptive or expressive aphasia. The therapist may present a familiar song with some words missing or altered, prompting the individual to fill in the gaps, or use songs with repetitive, predictable phrases to encourage spontaneous speech. This technique works especially well with young children and I have also used it with those recovering from strokes to great effect. 

Vocal Intonation Therapy (VIT): This technique focuses on using vocal exercises and singing to improve vocal quality, pitch, and volume control for individuals with speech and voice disorders. VIT can be particularly useful for individuals with Parkinson's disease, who often experience reduced vocal intensity and monotone speech. I have found this technique to work very well with clients who are struggling with dysarthria post stroke.

NMT helps individuals to regain or develop speech by capitalising on the inherent structure and organisation of music, which can facilitate neural plasticity and enhance the functional reorganisation of the brain. By engaging multiple sensory and motor systems simultaneously, NMT can foster improvements in speech production, fluency, and comprehension.

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