“Saylists” make speech language therapy accessible and engaging

The English language contains 44 sounds, but one in 12 children has trouble mastering at least one of these sounds. Children diagnosed with speech sound disorders often work with speech pathologists to practice pronunciations they struggle with by repeating them over and over again until they master them. To help children practice speech sound exercises, record label Warner Music, creative agency Rothco, and streaming platform Apple Music have collaborated to create “Saylists” which help people master sounds with the help of music. 

The 10 Saylists are now available for users on Apple Music. Each of the 10 playlists focuses on a different difficult-to-pronounce sound category. For example, the “D” Saylist includes pop artist Dua Lipa’s “‘Don’t Start Now” which repeats the “D” sound 50 times. Children can sing along to the Saylist relevant to their specific speech disorder to practice mastering the sound. 

Using music to practice sounds also helps children relax and brings an aspect of levity to an otherwise tedious task. Anna Biavati-Smith, a speech-language specialist who helped develop the playlists says, “Saylists provide a fun, new way (for kids) to practice the sounds I teach them — without feeling pressured or getting bored. Having fun is the first step to learning.”

To develop each Saylist, Rothco provided a lyric-analyzing algorithm that scanned more than 70 million songs to root out which ones best featured each specific sound pattern. 

In addition to making practice more fun, having these playlists available for all makes a speech-language resource available not only for students looking for extra practice but also for those who cannot afford frequent private speech-language therapy sessions. The developers hope that the Saylists will serve as an accessible and engaging resource for both children and adults struggling with speech disorders.

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