|Learning with Music (VSO)|
Most people, whatever their age or abilities, enjoy music, whether this be playing, dancing or just listening to music. Children with special needs are no exception. They can gain much benefit as well as enjoyment from musical activities. Music gives children confidence and they feel less inhibited when playing instruments in a group situation.
The following music curriculum and activities can be used with children who have various special needs, although it was primarily designed for children who are hearing impaired. The activities can be used by anyone who is in charge of a group, as the activities do not need the expertise of a trained music teacher or music therapist. The activities should be selected and adapted to suit the particular needs of the students. The paper is therefore intended to provide teachers who have not previously used music with some initial ideas and to encourage them to create their own ideas. Once the students have acquired the basic skills these can be expanded and developed by the class teachers or group leaders.
A variety of musical instruments can be used with the activities although percussion instruments are advised as they are easy to play and the children are able to dance and move around while playing. It is recommended that the hearing impaired students wear hearing aids while doing the activities to amplify their hearing; although children who cannot hear any sounds will still be able to enjoy the music by feeling the vibrations.
The activities should be fun for everyone. Care needs to be taken with the more 'competitive' activities, such as Musical Chairs, to ensure that all the children are able to play; if not, less able students could be given other activities to do, such as helping the teacher play the musical accompaniment.
All the activities have an objective, whether this be acquiring a listening skill or playing a rhythm. The emphasis is not on learning to sing or to play an instrument, but on acquiring other skills through the medium of music.