Apple Music launches ‘saylists’ to aid speech therapy

25 Mar 2021

Image: © New Africa/Stock.adobe.com

A new music-led initiative uses a custom algorithm to uncover songs that can help children with speech sound disorders.

Warner Music has teamed up with Apple Music and Accenture Interactive’s Rothco to create a selection of playlists aimed at augmenting speech therapy.

Launching exclusively on Apple Music today (25 March), the custom-built ‘saylists’ will feature popular music tracks that can help with the repetition of difficult syllables, words and phrases.

The English-language playlists are centred around commonly challenging speech sounds, such as ‘CH’, ‘D’, ‘F’, ‘G’, ‘K, ‘L’, ‘R’, ‘S’, ‘Z and ‘T’.

Rothco, a Dublin-based creative and advertising agency that is part of Accenture Interactive, developed an original algorithm that could analyse the lyrics of songs and look for patterns of repetition that would typically be used to train specific speech sounds.

Using the algorithm, Apple Music conducted the data analysis of song lyrics across the 70m tracks in its catalogue to isolate songs with significant patterns of repetition.

A final 173 songs were chosen by Warner Music and speech and language therapist Anna Biavati-Smith to create the initial 10 ‘saylists’.

The songs featured include Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa for the ‘D’ playlist, Good As Hell by Lizzo for the ‘G’ playlist and Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim for the ‘R’ playlist.

Biavati-Smith said keeping children engaged in therapy sessions is key. “‘Saylists’ provide a fun, new way to practise the sounds I teach them – without feeling pressured or getting bored. Having fun is the first step to learning.”

Alan Kelly, chief creative officer of Rothco, said the team wanted to help “redefine the long and often painstaking journey” that young people can experience when they need speech therapy.

“We recognised that there is one place where many people enjoy the rhythmic repetition of words and sounds – in music,” he said.

“It was crucial that we could analyse as many songs as possible to present children with something engaging. Pairing this with Warner’s curation meant we could be certain the songs in the ‘Saylists’ will appeal to many different young people.”

Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com