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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.