Intervention Spotlight: Encouraging Vocalization Through Singing

Intervention Spotlight-Have you ever seen the  movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

One scene depicts the bad guy trying to get Roger to show himself by tapping the rhythm of “Shave and a Haircut…” on the walls.  Roger tries to resist, but in the end he can’t help but to jump out and complete the phrase: “Two Bits!”

We all have a natural inclination to complete unfinished musical phrases.

Music therapists use this to our advantage, especially when we’re working with clients who need some encouragement when it comes to vocalization.  Watch the video below for a demonstration with my sweet daughter:

I remember being fascinated with this concept in my college music theory classes.  Certain chord progressions create tension that begs to be resolved (I-V7, for example), which can be so useful when working with clients who are hesitant to engage.  Alternatively, if I were working with a client on relaxation and anxiety reduction, we might use music that completely avoids those chord progressions and includes only fluid chords that don’t make us feel like they need to resolve in any particular way (I-IV-I, I-vi-I, and ii-I-ii are some of my favorites, for you musicians out there).

Even infants can learn musical patterns and respond to musical cues!

This is a fun way to bond with your new baby.  Pick a simple song, like Twinkle Twinkle, and sing it to your baby every day.  Then, in a few weeks, cut the last phrase short: “How I wonder what you…” and wait.  If your baby is 4 months old or so, I bet she will give you a weird look!  An older child might even complete the phrase for you.  Share a laugh, finish the song, and praise your child for being so smart.

Try it out and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

With joy,


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