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Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)

Granite Tile
Man Playing Drum
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A board certified music therapist with an NMT certificate can practice NMT and its techniques in any setting: private practices, community day centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, client homes, and assisted living sites.


We would love to hear any inquiries you have about NMT as a study or as a potential service for your environment.

what is it?

“About 25 years ago, a group of music therapists, neurologists, and other brain science specialists began research in what is now known as Neurologic Music Therapy. Throughout the years, the research has established standardized techniques that music therapists use to treat clients within a variety of clinical settings. The use of music in NMT has been standardized using 20 techniques. These techniques are adapted to address a client’s needs.  By either creating music and/or listening to music, the client is assessed and treated in order to meet non-musical goals. The following information expands on Neurologic Music Therapy; how it is used, how it is held accountable by an academy, how research supports its practice and efficacy, and how it could benefit the community of North East Wisconsin.”

Information obtained from the “Handbook of Neurologic Music Therapy”

NMT is optimal to address improving skills affected by ADHD and other symptoms of executive dysfunction: developmental delays, cognitive delays, hearing impairments, auditory processing disorders, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Stroke, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

NMT at Expressive Therapies

Neurologic Music Therapy in action

Expressive Therapies currently works with a client using the techniques Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation, Musical Speech Stimulation, and Therapeutical Instrumental Music Performance.

Watching this is just magical.


After the accident, we were told by doctors that the brain damage was so severe, she may never regain consciousness. If she did, in their experience, the best we could hope for is that she would have some mobility with a walker, would mumble and be blind. We knew there would be significant deficits.


Recently, we were told that if you see her scans, there is no way she should be able to motor plan walking as well as she does. This makes kicking amazing! The amount of balance, coordination, working between both sides of her brain, accuracy, sight etc that it takes is huge. And she has weights on!! I can't stress enough how much hard work this is for her.


We have been blessed to have extraordinarily people cross Payton's path. From saving her life to helping her continue to push her potential. All the while showing her support and love, thinking outside the box to motivate her. We are so proud of her.

~ Payton's Mom 

Video of our client practicing TIMP to increase her ability to swing her foot forward to increase the steadiness of her gait.

Is it Proven Effective?

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Research in Neurologic Music Therapy supports:


The use of musical stimuli as a mnemonic device or memory template to facilitate learning of nonmusical information. This application can be extended to learning of academic facts, personal information, communication scripts, and task analyses.


Shared processes between speech and singing although music activates neurologic response in a different way. Improvement in articulatory control, respiratory strength, and function of the speech apparatus, development of spontaneous and functional speech as well as improvements in speech comprehension has been researched and found to benefit from NMT.  Research has been provided with Broca’s aphasia, apraxia, other speech disorders, dysarthria, dyspraxia, (brain tumors) strokes, developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. 

The use of music to affect mood and physiological functioning, which in turn can affect motivation, memory, and emotional well-being.

The use of rhythmic cuing, rhythmic entrainment, and musical patterns to assist in functional movement such as gait, range of motion, endurance, and strength as well as enhancing motor control. 

Systematic application of music to enhance speech and language development, speech production (articulation and intelligibility), verbal intelligence, reading ability and comprehension, pre-literacy skills, phonemic learning and phonological memory. 

Music Therapy improved functional abilities in everyday activities, increased independent behavior, and decreased behavioral episodes. Effective in decreasing agitation and anxiety, overcoming initiation difficulties and promoting positive behaviors in populations with neurobehavioral disorders.​


Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy and its Certificate

“The Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy was established in 2002 to advance the professional education and understanding of the scientific, evidence-based practice of Neurologic Music Therapy, and to facilitate the coordinated and cooperative efforts of NMTs throughout the world.” If you are curious about more specifics on Neurologic Music Therapy, please refer to the academy’s website at


See our Supporting Research Page

See Creative Arts in Rehabilitation  

See our Newsletters & Press Page

Neurologic Music Therapy definitions

Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) is the application of rhythmical (temporal) auditory stimuli to serve as a reference for a client and cues how steady they should walk within the provided beat. This reference is usually disguised by favorite songs the client has, which makes the tune more motivating.

Musical Speech Stimulation (MUSTIM) This technique motivates clients to vocalize and/or say the last word of a sentence in a song. For example, “You are my sunshine, my only… ______”.


Therapeutical Instrument Music Performance (TIMP) is one of the three techniques in neurologic music therapy that address motor rehabilitation. Musical instruments are used to help clients exercise impaired motor functions and regain functional patterns of movement. All exercises in TIMP are created by a licensed physical therapist to focus on certain muscles, while the music therapist creates music and uses specific instruments to motivate the client to practice the exercise.

Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) is a technique that is used by speech language therapists and music therapists. This technique makes common phrases into short sing-song tunes, emphasizing the melody and rhythmic elements of a phrase to assist in speech recovery. Singing common phrases helps the brain recall and produce everyday phrases (example: how are you) so that clients can communicate through singing until their speech rehabilitation progresses to speech without singing. 

Auditory Perception Training (APT) This technique aims to improve the ability to understand speech and distinguish environmental sounds.
Exercises also aim to encourage basic cognitive functions as well as receptive language (listening, and understanding signs and gestures,)
and expressive language (singing and speaking). (Handbook: pg. 229-231).


Musical Attention Control Training (MACT) is focused on increasing a client’s ability to attend to a task. An example is having a client STOP moving or playing an instrument when they hear a drum play and START moving or playing an instrument when they hear a piano. This attention exercise not only requires attending, but impulse control, which is a skill client who has one of the aforementioned diagnoses may struggle with but may be highly motivated by the music to practice.

Musical Executive Functioning Training (MEFT) uses the repetition and manipulation of complex rhythms to increase a client’s executive functioning skills. This technique is highly beneficial for clients who are affected by neurological illnesses (e.g. dementia) and frontal lobe injuries (e.g. traumatic brain injuries) or have difficulties with attention (e.g. ADHD) and memory. At Expressive Therapies, we enjoy using rhythmic patterns to increase executive functioning skills while having fun with 5-year-olds, 89-year-olds, and everyone in-between!

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