Say Yes to a Saylist
Photo Courtesy of Apple Music.
If you or someone you know struggles or has struggled with speech problems in the past, the modern world has come up with a convenient and effective solution to practicing the most challenging sounds to make while speaking English. By combining modern algorithms, and the availability of internet connected devices right in our pockets, Apple Music and Rothco have developed a series of different playlists that are specifically designed to provide a convenient place to be exposed to a rhythmic repetitions of words and sounds that create problems for those with atypical speaking habits. Providing a brand new way to practice in a safe and pressure free environment.
By first identifying the most commonly challenging speech sounds in the English language: ‘CH’, ‘D’, ‘F’, ‘G’, ‘K’, ‘L’, ‘R’, ‘S’, ‘T’, and ‘Z’ Apple Music was able to use an algorithm developed by Rothco to analyze the lyrical content of the 70 million songs in Apples catalog and determine which songs correspond to these sounds. Rothco’s original algorithm was capable of analyzing the lyrics of any song and specifically finding patterns of repetition that have traditionally been used to help train specific speech sounds. Apple used this algorithm to narrow down the number of songs. Then Anna Biavati-Smith, a speech and language therapist for Warner Music, curated the list down to 173 songs that best exemplify the repetitions of difficult speech patterns.
This created a set of ten playlists that correspond to each of the individual sounds. The algorithms specifically located songs that repeat the difficult to pronounce sounds. The idea
is that by singing along to the songs those with speech problems will have a fun and rhythmic place to practice pronouncing the sounds that give them difficulty, which will then result in a diminished difficulty when speaking the rest of the time. Or in other words, to sing more and speak better.
Since one of the few places people naturally enjoy repeating the same sounds over and over again are in the form of song lyrics. The rhythmic and harmonic nature of music provides a fun and engaging place to practice the difficult to pronounce sounds. Which provides the user with a far more enjoyable experience in which they can practice than the traditional speech therapy exercises.
According to Rothco’s chief creative officer Alan Kelly, the goal of creating the Saylists was to help “redefine the long and often painstaking journey that young people with atypical speech can experience.” Which is understandable considering that several of the members of the Rothco team that helped work on the Saylists grew up with Speech Sound Disorders themselves. This makes it a bit of a personal project for the team as well.
Although the playlists themselves are curated to be enjoyed by younger users and children, people who struggle with speech of any age will find something appealing. However, since the Sayists provide a fun new way to practice, many teachers and parents will immediately recognize the inherent benefit they have for children. The use of music and songs to help the children engage provides them with an optimal learning environment. One where not only do they not feel overly pressured, but they stay engaged and can even have fun while practicing speech therapy.
Each of the ten most difficult sounds for English speakers with atypical speech received their own playlist with their own set of songs. Some of the songs appear on more than one playlist but what is nice about the playlist is that they have enough music diversity that you're sure to find something that is enjoyable for any of the different sounds that are giving you or your child trouble. The ten different Saylists contain a wide variety of different recording artists that have been specifically curated. For instance the S Saylist includes songs from artists like Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Fatboy Slim, Coldplay, and Rihanna. The F Saylist includes songs from Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran, Talking Heads, and Black Eyed Peas. And the R Saylist features Daft Punk, Beyonce, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Muse.
So even if you, or your child, are picky about the music you like to listen to, there is enough diversity in the styles of music that you are sure to find something that works for your scenario. Finding a song that is enjoyable to sing along to is definitely the key to the benefit of the Saylists. You’ll want to find a song that makes the whole experience feel like fun instead of a boring speech therapy chore. So the diversity of different songs is definitely a positive thing.
Overall Saylists are a collection of different playlists that each focus on a different sound that you or someone you know might have trouble pronouncing in the English language. By choosing one and singing along, a user gets the opportunity to practice along to a sound they have trouble with in a way that is more engaging than the traditional speech therapy methods. The idea is that by providing an environment that is less boring, children in particular will have a new tool that helps them overcome any speech problems that they may have in a more entertaining way. A more entertaining method to practice will encourage them to spend more time on the exercises so that they end up getting more out of it.