Betsey King, PhD, MT-BC, an assistant professor at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, has extensive experience in music therapy practice and research related to speech and language rehab. This AMTA.Pro Symposium focuses on music therapy applications addressing challenges encountered in speech and language therapy, especially the unique characteristics of  aphasia, apraxia, and dysarthria.


Music Therapy: Catalyst for Speech and for Language

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Betsey King, PhD, MT-BC

AMTA.Pro Symposium

Betsey King, PhD, MT-BC is an assistant professor at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY.  She coordinates the undergraduate music therapy program and teaches in the graduate creative arts therapy department. Dr. King works cooperatively with other Nazareth faculty to actively promote interprofessional learning and clinical training in on-campus clinics for music therapy, physical therapy, speech-language therapy, and art therapy. Much of the work described in this symposium was conducted during joint clinical training for music therapy and speech therapy students.

Note: This symposium was recorded in an informal setting, a spirited discussion between Dr. King and AMTA.Pro coordinator, Cathy Knoll at the 2009 AMTA conference in San Diego. Because both King and Knoll are rather lively conversationalists, AMTA.Pro’s technical coordinator, Dwight Knoll, was not always successful in keeping a microphone in the optimal position for a consistent sound level.

Discussion Outline

Overview of the potential of music therapy in speech production and language development

1. Important distinction between language and speech

2. Language: A system of symbols encoding and conveying information

3. Speech:  The human vocal system for voicing language

Review of three common issues related to speech and language

1. Aphasia:  A disorder of language, which may be expressive, receptive, or both.

2. Apraxia:  A neurological disorder affecting the purposeful motor planning for speech.

3. Dysarthria:  A neurological disorder affecting control of the muscles needed for speech.

Description of innovative program at Nazareth College

1. Cooperative project involving on-campus clinics for separate disciplines

2. Music therapy, physical therapy, speech-language therapy, and art therapy clinics

3. Involves faculty from all four disciplines work in teams

4. Active promotion of interprofessional learning and clinical training

Descriptions of music therapy applications addressing clients/patients with diverse needs

1. Automatic singing for pleasure, self-confidence, and motivation to participate and interact

2. Balancing drills with relaxation: the use of the bridge

3. Consonant production drills

4. Free singing for phoneme production / identification

5. Transition from automatic to volitional speech production

6. Addressing language

Recommendations of readings and research

Brookshire, R. H. (2007).  Introduction to neurogenic communication disorders.  Philadelphia: Mosby.

King, B. (2007).  Language and speech: Distinguishing between aphasia, apraxia, and dysarthria in music therapy research and practice.  Music Therapy Perspectives, 25, pp. 14-22.

Koelsch, S. (2008).  Shared Neural Resources between Music and Language Indicate Semantic Processing of Musical Tension-Resolution Patterns.  Cerebral Cortex, 18, 1169-1178.

Patel, A.D. (2007).  Music, language and the brain. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Neither the American Music Therapy Association nor its Board of Directors is responsible for the conclusions reached or the opinions expressed in any of the AMTA.Pro symposiums.