Instead of reviewing one app like usual, I’m going to briefly review three apps. Each are musical instrument apps that can be incorporated into speech-language therapy. I will explain each app and then talk about therapy applications and the overall take-away at the end of the entire post. This post is less about the apps (they’re each pretty good) and more to get people thinking about how they could be used in therapy. 🙂
1. Real Piano HD
How It Works: It shows 30 white keys and 22 black keys at one time, half on the top of the screen and half on the bottom. Using the black bar on the top, you can move left or right to get higher or lower keys. The names of the keys are on the bottom. There are various tuning settings as well a way to make the keyboard single instead of double.
Pros: 1. Pretty basic and very similar to a real piano.
Cons: 1. When I downloaded the app, it was free. I’m a little bummed to see it’s gone up to $3, even if it is still worth the price.
How It Works: This guitar has six strings with 14 possible chords and an “open” option (no chord). Touching each string makes it vibrate and produce its sound.
Pros: 1. Again, this is a pretty basic app. No frills, but it does what it says it will with no glitches.
Cons: 1. Kids are usually disappointed that you can’t “strum” all the strings in rapid order. (I’m sure there is a musical term for this that I don’t know!) You can only play one string at a time or press the button that plays them all simultaneously.
2. There are ads in this app.
How It Works: Of the three musical apps, this one has the most options, but I usually stick to one or two of the choices so I’m not overwhelmed. It boasts 190 different sounds, various effects like echoing, and different types (e.g. techno).
Pros: 1. Many, many choices for various drums and sounds effects.
2. Kids love the visual feedback of the different pads lighting up when you press them.
Cons: 1. Can be a little overwhelming for kids to have that many choices. (It’s also easy to get distracted!)
My Therapy Applications: I love these apps for introducing rhythm and music into therapy. I am certainly no music therapist, and I’m not even very musically inclined. However, I appreciate the various ways that music can be used to promote speech and language. A music therapist recently told me that “rhythm is the organizer and energizer” of life. Using these apps, you can spark kids’ interest as well as sneak in some of that natural organization. For example, one girl I work with uses the drum app to work on grammar and sentence structure. It helps her pace herself and remember all the “little words.” I use the piano app with a boy who has childhood apraxia of speech. I use a couple basic keys to supplement melodic intonation therapy (MIT). For another boy, the guitar app is simply an incentive to get through the rest of his session so he can play it. In addition to these ideas, I could see these apps being great ways to incorporate basic rhythm and music into therapy with adults with acquired language disorders to promote structure and organization.
The Take-Away: Again, none of these apps could ever replace a music therapist. However, they are great, CHEAP ways to introduce some rhythm and melody into therapy. I would say download at least one or two of them. They can be useful for a variety of age groups.
My Questions for You: Do you ever use music in your therapy sessions? Could you see yourself using these apps? Have any further ideas for how to include them in therapy?