Music Games for the Developmentally Delayed

Music provides developmentally delayed children several benefits.

Music therapists have found that music can help the developmentally delayed child improve his achievement in several basic areas. Using music therapy resources, games and activities help increase attention, productivity, arithmetic scores, coordination, self-control and speech development. Even rudimentary music activities can greatly enhance a student's life and ability to develop complex mental functions. Music teachers specializing in music therapy use several activities from keeping a basic pulse to learning the basics of music and develop crucial life skills.

Pitch Discrimination

Using an instrument, or the voice, children can learn to identify and reproduce musical sounds. The first step in working with a developmentally delayed child involves teaching them the difference between high pitches and low pitches. You can provide several instruments for the student to categorize by pitch. Play a musical example of a flute and then an example of a tuba. Ask the child whether the flute sounds higher or lower than the tuba.

Rhythmic Imitation

Provide the child with a hand drum and teach them how to beat a steady pulse. Have her follow your actions, and go slowly. Tell her the object of this game is to beat the drum in a steady motion and avoid speeding up or slowing down. Begin the game by tapping with the child and then let her see how long she can keep the beat steady on their own. As the child improves, make the game more complicated by playing simple rhythms and ask the child to imitate the rhythm with her own instrument.

Vocal Skills

Teach the child to sing simple songs such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Once the child has mastered the ability to sing songs, sing a note, then a series of random notes, and ask the child to sing the pitches back. Singing pitches randomly and matching isolated pitches will be harder for the child than singing songs. Instruct the child in how to breathe in by taking in a full breath and learning to control their airflow by breathing out slowly and timing it over several seconds.

Auditory Memory

Sing a melody to the child and then sing the melody again, but change one pitch. Make the melodies simple at first. Start with two notes and then add three, four and five notes as the child develops. Each melody should be identical except for a single pitch. The goal of this game is for the child to identify the pitch that differs from the original version. As the child improves, change additional pitches and increase the length of the melodies.


Music Therapy Association of British Columbia: Developmental Delay []

"Journal of Music Therapy"; Humphrey; 1980

Teacher Vision: Special Needs – Teacher Resources []


Popular posts from this blog

List of Musical Techniques and Their Meanings

How to Switch From Mono to Stereo in GarageBand

Musical Instruments That Make Animal Sounds