Communicating through musical play: combining speech and language therapy practices with those of early childhood music education – the SALTMusic approach

Pitt, J. (2020) Communicating through musical play: combining speech and language therapy practices with those of early childhood music education – the SALTMusic approach. Music Education Research, 22 (1). pp. 68-86. ISSN 1461-3808 (print) 1469-9893 (online)

Abstract

Young children’s speech and communication skills have been in the spotlight in recent years, often in association with parental socio-economic status and children’s ‘readiness’ for school. Finding innovative and open-ended ways to encourage children with communication difficulties to engage in interactive play was the premise for this action research project. By combining the theoretical knowledge and expertise of speech and language therapists with those of early childhood music-arts practitioners, the interdisciplinary research team expanded their understanding and practical approaches. Caregivers and children aged 24–48 months attended weekly SALTMusic sessions. The team reflected together on their observations after every session, completing the ‘SALTMusic Scale’ for each child. Drawing together analyses from this tool, and other data collection methods, it was evident that children’s communication improved when the need to talk was removed and children and caregivers were encouraged to play with sound and make music together. This is an important study offering an evidence-informed approach to working with children and their caregivers that can relieve anxiety and build confidence. The quality of practice in the field is impacted by an increasingly reflective workforce who place theory and research as integral elements of their practice.

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