Intervention Inspiration Series: Movement and Speech

As a new initiative for MTSA this summer, we are choosing to share different ideas for Music Therapy practice in the hopes that this will provide a valuable resource for beginning music therapists and as inspiration for practicing therapists.  Every Monday, a different intervention idea will be presented.  They will be very basic and will be best as beginning inspiration to be varied and adapted for different clinical settings.   They may include specific music, but will typically only indicate the style of music to be incorporated. 
The following basic format will be given for each intervention: 1) Activity, the type of intervention; 2) Target population, the intended client population for the intervention; 3) Materials, the instruments and supplies required; 4) Goals/Aims, ideas for goals or aims that could be addressed in the intervention; 5) Method, a detailed description of what would occur during the intervention; 6) Comments, an explanation of why this intervention is applicable for the given client population and how the goals/aims are addressed; and 7) Evaluation, questions to allow for reflection on whether or not the intervention was effective for a particular client or clients. 

Movement and Speech

by Olivia Drew-Brook

Photo Source


Listening and Responding within the beat

Target Population:

Children with Down Syndrome


Hand Drum


To increase fine and gross motor skills

To increase articulation and practice speech sounds

To improve listening skills

To motivate participation

To increase self-esteem

To provide the opportunity for clients to express themselves

To increase attention span

To encourage eye contact


The music therapist will introduce the hand drum to the clients by drumming a steady beat.  The therapist will then invite the clients to beat along, by patting on their leg or clapping their hands.  Once the group is “feeling” this beat as one, clients will stop beating and the therapist will introduce a new beat.  The therapist will then explain that when the drum is beating twice as fast, clients are encouraged to get up from their chairs and freestyle dance.  If clients are not comfortable doing this, they can dance from their chair or tap the faster beat with the therapist.  This opportunity to freestyle will happen multiple times in between other cues.

Still beating the drum, the therapist will sing an improvisation, encouraging clients to “tap your toes, touch your nose, put your hands in the air, and tap your hair.”  Clients will perform the actions to the beat of the drum as a group.

The music therapist will then ask clients to “repeat after me in 1, 2, 3.”  This is a chance for the clients to vocalize speech sounds such as “e”, “a”, “ah”, “oo”, “uu”, “shh”, “la”, etc.  The therapist will repeat a sound three times and then the clients will have the opportunity to imitate the sound.


Children with Down Syndrome develop gross and fine motor skills at a slower pace than normally developing children.  Some children with Down Syndrome may also have poor muscle tone.  Dance is a motivating way for children to participate and work on increasing their motor abilities, and the rhythm of the drum particularly encourages movement.  Articulating speech is also difficult for children with Down Syndrome, therefore, imitation of speech-like sounds is also beneficial.  Repeating the speech sounds is also helpful for these children because they often have verbal short-term memories.  The speed of this intervention is easily adjustable and there is much room for flexibility in order to incorporate other applicable concepts, such as addressing individuals individually or as a group to encourage social skills and turn taking.


Did all the group members participate?

Did group members understand the instruction?

Did the clients take advantage of the opportunity to freestyle and move around the room?

If so, what were the reactions from other clients?

Did the clients stay focussed for the whole duration of the intervention?

Did the clients move to the beat?

Did the clients enjoy themselves?

Did group members make eye contact (or other contact) with one another?


About Laurier MTSA

We are a student association at Wilfrid Laurier University and most of our members are students in the Music Therapy program. We exist to educate about, promote, and support the work of music therapy, and to support the academic, career, and personal needs of the Music Therapy Students. Our mandate is to unite prospective, current and alumni students while promoting our profession in the larger community.
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