Ready for Part 3? This is the third post in the musical mini-series where we’re a closer look at our therapeutic medium: music.

We started off by taking a glance at melody and the V7 chord.

Next up is….(drumroll please)….tempo!

How can we as music therapists use tempo to guide and elicit movements?

  • When working with a stroke patient, we may want them to complete bicep curls in co-treatment with a physical therapist. With an autoharp, we can provide a slow, rhythmic strum to dictate how fast the movements should be completed. Many clients want to speed through exercises to get them done, but we can control that with a nice, slow and steady tempo.
  • When working with a child who has a speech delay, we can sing that client’s favorite song at a slow, controlled tempo. This helps ensure each syllable of the song lyrics will be clearly articulated.
  • We can also use a slow, controlled guitar strum to guide movements in Therapeutic Instrumental Music Playing (TIMP). For example, to work on bilateral coordination, we can direct a client with Multiple Sclerosis to reach out in a slow, controlled movement to strike the drum.
  • Quick arpeggios on flute can guide children with special needs to move their scarves quickly in time with the music.
  • A quick tempo in a ragtime tune played on the piano can cue adults with developmental delay to stand up and dance with their partner.

What else would you add? How do you use tempo to guide and elicit movements in your clients?

Stay tuned next week when I wrap of this musical mini-series and share how enhancing our musical presentation can improve our client’s therapeutic experience.