Learning from music

  • Draw the child’s attention to certain qualities of a piece of music; for example, is it being performed using voices or instruments or electronic sounds (or perhaps a combination)?
  • Is it slow or fast, loud or quiet, based on patterns of three beats or four?
  • Several of the Tuning In songs are designed to foreground features such as these, so use them to assist the child’s learning. AmberPlus Music Resources
  • See whether the child can improvise pieces (or short bursts of music) that have features that you agree in advance.

Using sound and music as sources of information about the world

  • If the child cannot see, encourage families to use music and musical sounds to provide information that would usually be taken in visually.
  • For example, place a windchime near their bedroom door, or play quiet music in the bathroom.
  • Encourage parents and staff at school to identify key people through personal soundmakers (such as a jangly bracelet) and activities through sounds of reference (such as a bell for music).
  • Introduce sounds of reference as part of an activity, and later keep them separate, so they can be used to help the child anticipate what’s coming next and in sensory timetables.

Music as a product of culture

  • All pieces of music and musical instruments provide information about the cultures in which they were created.
  • They can be particularly valuable for giving a sense of cultural identity for those who are visually impaired.
  • Introduce the child (and their family) to the music and (if possible) the musicians of cultures other than their own.
  • Place the experiences in wider contexts (involving food, scents, dress, language, etc.).

Play ‘guess that sound’ games

  • Make up games with the child that involve listening to a range of different sounds from around the home (or recordings of them) and guessing what they are.
  • Then try recordings of urban sounds, sounds of nature, sounds heard when travelling, etc.
  • Do the same activity with musical sounds – different instruments, groups, and styles of music.
  • Play ‘name that tune’, by trying to recognise a song after the first note, the second note, etc.).