Speech-music groups organized by Lindfors Foundation started as early as in 2007. They are targeted for the children with hearing impairments, led by a speech and music therapists, and funded by Lindfors Foundation and Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY). The methods are based on the methods commonly used in Finnish musical play schools as well as on the work by TOD (teacher of the deaf), music therapist Christine Rocca and music therapist Catherine Bowker (Mary Hare School) and the Hanen method. The group size is nowadays up to 5 children. Family groups are aimed for the youngest children (1 – 3 yrs of olds). Parents and their children attend these lessons together. The older children participate in the groups without their parents. Accompanying instruments (piano, guitar, Finnish zither, violin) are used in every session. Also other musical instruments like flute, clarinet and violin are played for the children; almost immediately after implant activation the babies enjoy and concentrate on listening to the music played with musical instruments.
The emphasis in these groups is on interaction, singing and developing the perception of prosody, auditory working memory as well as receptive and expressive language skills by using songs. Exercises to improve the perception and production of voice pitch, like tone slides and repetitive musical intervals (usually a third and a fifth) and “match your tune to this one” are embedded in the motivating children’s stories. Most of these music stories have been developed by Christine Rocca and Catherine Bowker and translated into Finnish by speech therapist Ritva Torppa and music therapist Seija Laakso (MUKULA 1-5, Lindfors Foundation and Mary Hare School). Even CI children usually show developments in singing in tune when these stories embedded in exercises are used. For developing the musical and language skills also the Music Time –material by Rocca and Bowker (available from Ear Foundation, adapted into Finnish by Torppa and Laakso) is frequently used.
Like in musical play school, also playing musical instruments by the children (keyboards, piano, Finnish zithers, percussion instruments) is included in the activities. However, the main emphasis is on singing the same songs repeatedly allowing the children memorizing the words of the songs and learning the rhythmic and melodic structure of the music. Repetitive musical activities are used because they motivate even the youngest babies, and create them abilities to remember the words of the songs. The parents and the children are encouraged to continue singing and musical instrument playing at home. The children also learn to make music together encouraging their social skills.