It is always worth remembering that music is, above all, a social activity.
Children with neurodegenerative disease often enjoy making music with others, just like everyone else, and they should be supported to join choirs, bands, orchestras and other groups if they wish.
If sight-reading is expected, then the sheet music will need to be obtained in advance and modified, transcribed or memorised.
The main potential barriers to participation though, may be the practicalities of getting to a rehearsal, moving around the venue and setting up instruments – issues that can be addressed with careful organisation and the help of friends.
Starting, stopping and changing tempo
Starting a piece at the same time as others can be challenging without sight – and you may have to offer a discreet auditory cue. Nafis's Story @ 07:47
You can help a child stop at the right time through practising silent counting while they hold a final note.
Changes of tempo will need particular practice, as they are often cued visually.
But with careful listening – by all the members of an ensemble – getting faster or slower together is quite possible; encourage fully sighted members of a group to rehearse with their eyes closed too. Luke's Story @ 08:05
Working with mixed abilities
Music is unique in enabling children with a range of abilities to take part in a single activity at the same time.
This is because the different strands in a single musical texture can be simple (such as a regular beat) or complex (such as a bebop melody).
So, group music is ideal for differentiation – where distinct learning pathways share a common goal.
Hence, whether the child you are working with has musical abilities that are advancing or declining, it is still possible for them to take part and to continue to do so.
Developing vocal skills with others
Singing with other children or young people is an activity that suits a wide range of musical abilities; and individuals may fulfil different roles in a group as their abilities change over time.
It is easiest to share a common part with others, which naturally scaffolds a child’s individual efforts, who therefore need make only a partial contribution.
It is more challenging to sing the same part as others but at a different time (as in rounds and canons).
Maintaining a separate part is most straightforward with ‘ostinati’ (phrases that repeat while other things change).