Sounds of Intent Level 2

What to expect from a child functioning primarily at Sounds of Intent Level 2

Assess the child’s level of musical engagement through careful observation

  • Children functioning at SoI Level 2 experience the world in a sensory way. They do not process repetition and regularity in the environment that would enable them to make sense of what they perceive and anticipate what may happen next.
  • By the same token, while they may deliberately make sounds, they do not intentionally create patterns of movement – or sound.
  • And while they may respond to the sounds made by others, they do not imitate them or recognise themselves being copied.

Choosing musical activities for the child

  • Children functioning at Level 2 are likely to benefit from musical activities that are primarily sensory or multisensory in nature.
  • However, their development may also be enhanced by seeking to engage them in activities at Level 3, that promote the recognition and creation of patterns, alone and with others, and by exposing them to resources that focus on motifs (Level 4) and whole pieces (Level 5).

Listening and responding to sounds and music

Amber Plus Card 1Make all sorts of different sounds to catch the child’s attention

  • Make sounds with your voice, your body or objects in the environment.
  • Hum, holler, hoot, whoop and whisper! Clap, tap, stamp, click and scratch!
  • Rustle paper, rattle containers, clank chains and thwack plastic pipes.
  • Make sounds that are high or low, long or short, bright or dull; make sounds that stay the same, or change by going up and down or getting louder or quieter.
  • Move around as you make sounds: in front of the child or behind, from the left or the right, stationary or moving.

Amber Plus Card 2Put together different playlists of music for the child to enjoy

  • Help them to explore the wide variety of music that is available on the internet, including pop music from different cultures and eras, songs from the shows, dance music from all over the world, music ceremonies (religious or secular), lullabies, and classical music from anywhere in the world. Organise the music by mood, or style or genre, so it is easy for someone else to use.
  • Raid an old CD or vinyl collection!
  • Get ideas from the child’s family or friends.
  • What are the child’s able-bodied peers listening to?
  • Record live events (where permitted) to add to one of the child’s playlists.

Amber Plus Card 3Let the child experience the world of sounds outside

  • Immerse the child in different soundscapes, though be sensitive to potential sensory overload. Make a careful note of any positive (or negative) reactions for future reference and let the child’s family and other professionals working with the child know.
  • Try different shops and shopping malls – they consciously use music to evoke different feelings and behaviours in customers.
  • Try going to different places of worship – temples, mosques and churches – and experience the music they sing, chant or play as part of different rituals.
  • Try train stations and airports.
  • If possible, go to the seashore, or to a children’s farm or animal park, which are all sources of many different kinds of sound.

Amber Plus Card 4Show the child how sounds can be linked to other sensory experiences

  • All natural soundmakers and instruments are intrinsically multisensory in nature.
  • Let the child experience a large shimmering cymbal that buzzes under their fingers as you do a soft roll on it, or musical gourds from Africa or India that are rested across the child’s lap as you twist them back and forth.
  • Try placing a didgeridoo across the child’s trunk and play it so they can feel the vibration in their body.
  • Play a drum on a resonance board upon which the child is lying.
  • Let the child experience the sound and smell of autumn leaves with their earthy scent being scrunched on the ground or listen to pebbles dropped into a bowl of water that is splashing on their hands.

Making sounds

Amber Plus Card 5Help the child make different kinds of sounds themselves

  • Think of the many different ways in which you can encourage a child to make sounds, and try them out systematically, but with imagination. Keep a careful note of what you do, and what happens.
  • Amplify any vocal sounds the child may make using a microphone – you can add effects such as reverberation too.
  • Gently guide the child’s hands to explore everyday soundmakers – things to rustle, scrunch, squeeze and scratch.
  • Sensitively guide the child’s hands to explore instruments and make whatever sounds they can; help them to use a stick, beater or bow; and remember that the child’s feet may be good at getting things to make sounds too.
  • Use assistive technologies – switches and gesture detectors – that can convert any movement into any sound.

Amber Plus Card 6Encourage the child to express their feelings through sound

  • Engage overtly with the feelings that you perceive the child to be trying to express.
  • For example, react to copy any vocalisations they may make.
  • Respond to sounds the child makes with objects and instruments that may indicate excitement, frustration, boredom, pleasure or annoyance.
  • Can you affect the way that the child feels (a word of reassurance, a touch on the hand) and so change the nature of the sounds they make?
  • Remember that choosing not to make a sound may also show how the child is feeling.

Amber Plus Card 7Give the child opportunities to make sounds in different places and spaces

  • Think beyond the child’s classroom or home.
  • Try making sounds in places that echo a lot like halls, churches and long corridors, or small places that absorb sound such as multisensory rooms and small furnished areas.
  • The child may be able to hear clearly articulated sounds bouncing off buildings that are near to them.
  • Sounds that are made in the open, away from buildings and trees, will sound quite ‘dead’ in comparison.
  • Use technology that can mimic different environments, by adding reverberation to sounds that child makes.

Amber Plus Card 8Guide the child to explore soundmakers with their other senses too

  • Help the child to integrate information from all their senses.
  • Let them experience the cool metal of a gong, or the weight of a gato drum in their lap.
  • Help them to experience the wooden texture of a didgeridoo or the smell of a new African drum made from hide.
  • Let them feel the shiny, smooth surface of a trumpet.
  • Can they get their hands round the sheer size of a double bass?

Interacting through sound

Amber Plus Card 9Encourage the child to make sounds in response to the sounds that you make

  • Have ‘conversations’ with the child in sound. For example, use your voice to make sounds that you know (or think) the child may enjoy, and let the child feel your lips so they know what is happening.
  • Then guide the child’s hand to feel their own lips.
  • Allow plenty of time for a response!
  • Try something different: put bells on the child’s wrists and/or ankles, and put bells on your wrists and/or ankles too and play shaking games – you go first and see if the child responds. Assist them if necessary.
  • Try putting a balloon between you and the child and share the sounds made with hands and voices. Make funny noises down a cardboard tube held to the child’s ear, then encourage the child to reciprocate.

Amber Plus Card 10Respond to the sounds a child makes by making sounds yourself

  • Interpret the sounds that a child makes as efforts to reach out to you.
  • Make short bursts of sound with your voice in response to any vocalisations that the child makes.
  • Try using a microphone and amplifier to enhance the effect of the vocal sounds that you and the child make.
  • Place a large ocean drum across your laps and make sounds on it in response to any sounds that the child makes.
  • Now try doing the same activity with two separate instruments.

Amber Plus Card 11Interact with the child through sound in different contexts

  • Different situations may stimulate the child to interact with you in different ways.
  • For example, voices sound very different in the swimming or hydrotherapy pool.
  • There might be outdoor instruments in an adventure playground you could use – though everyday soundmakers, like taking it in turns to hit a log with a stick can be just as much fun.
  • Different people’s voices may catch the child’s attention and make them responsive in different ways.
  • The time of day may be important: is the child a lark or an owl?

Amber Plus Card 12Have dialogues in sound with the child that use other senses too

  • Remember that human interaction is often multisensory.
  • So get up close to the child and, if they have any useful vision, exaggerate your facial expressions when having conversations in sound.
  • Supplement the sounds you make with physical contact on the child’s hands or arms.
  • Use a resonance board to let the child feel the sounds that you make using instruments through their body.
  • Use technology to add a visual dimension to conversations – sound-sensitive lights or changing images on screen.

Using sound and music to promote other areas of understanding, development and wellbeing

Amber Plus Card 13Help the child to find out about their own body through sound

  • This can be done through a child experiencing sounds or making them.
  • Think of the child’s body as a resonator – let them feel sound and vibration in their limbs and trunk and head.
  • Think of their body as a musical instrument – any part that can move can make, cause or control a sound.
  • Assist the child in using everyday soundmakers and musical instruments, as well as switches, beams and gesture-recognition technology.
  • Think of making it as easy as possible for the child to understand cause and effect by exaggerating the feedback the child gets from their efforts. You can use technology to amplify the sounds that the child makes and play them back in real time.

Amber Plus Card 14Help the child to find out about their own thoughts and feelings through sound

  • All sounds have the capacity to elicit an emotional response.
  • Observe whether the child responds differently to different sounds, and how consistent their responses are.
  • If the child finds certain sounds upsetting, it is possible for the child to avoid hearing them, or perhaps their tolerance of them could gradually be built up.
  • Remember, children are most likely to be engaged emotionally through the sound of your voice.
  • Giving the child the opportunities to make sounds may be a great way of enabling them to show you how they are feeling and to learn to regulate their emotions.

Amber Plus Card 15Help the child to find out about other people through sound

  • Talk to the child; sing to them – although they may not understand the words, the sheer sound of your voice may well be important to them.
  • Greet the child by using their name, and tell them yours, and ask other people to do the same.
  • Don’t be afraid of repetition – lots of it – and try using a ‘sing-song’ quality to your voice.
  • Let the child know how you’re feeling through exaggerating your vocal expressions.
  • Supplement your voice with physical contact on the child’s hand or arm, helping them to develop the idea of ‘someone else’.

Amber Plus Card 16Help the child to find out about the world around through sound

  • Wherever possible, link the sounds that the child is exposed to with other sensory input: touch, sight and smell.
  • Remember that it may be hard for the child to focus on one sound at a time in a noisy environment, so eliminate auditory clutter if you can.
  • Let the child hear the same soundmaker in different environments, so that the child gets used to things sounding different in different places.
  • Make recordings of what the child hears when they are out and about, so the child can re-live them when they’re back at home or in school.
  • Remember that the child may need a lot of repetition of experiences in order to grasp them.