Musical Notes with Melissa Pate

Melissa PatePicture this: you’re walking down the street on a cool Friday morning and pop in your earbuds to begin listening to your favorite music as you walk. After a minute, you realize you’re walking to the tempo of the music! How did that happen? This universal phenomenon is called “entrainment.” It’s when one system’s motion or signal frequency synchronizes with the frequency of another system. When you think about the body’s biological systems, it is apparent that many aspects have a stable temporal template—heartbeat, breath, gait, speech, blinking. Rhythmic entrainment is one of the most important underlying mechanisms for the successful application of rhythmic-musical stimuli in motor rehabilitation. In fact, within Neurologic Music Therapy, many of our techniques are based at least in part on rhythmic entrainment, for example, Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS), utilizes a steady tempo to rehabilitate gait training in Parkinson’s patients. Rhythmic Entrainment extends beyond motor control as well. Speech rate control affecting intelligibility, oral motor control, articulation, voice quality, and respiratory strength can also be improved and maintained through rhythmic entrainment. At Kensington Park, our music therapists use rhythmic entrainment in our everyday practice for several different goals. We’ll entrain breath to regulate breathing, we’ll entrain speech to rhythm to facilitate speech production, or even entrainment for relaxation! As researchers learn more about the relationship between rhythm, the brain, and biological systems, the more music therapists can utilize the power of music and rhythm to better serve our clients. Michael H. Thaut, Entrainment and the Motor System, Music Therapy Perspectives, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2013, Pages 31–34, https://doi. org/10.1093/mtp/31.1.31