The purpose of this study was to research successful strategies for teaching music to mainstreamed students who are visually impaired. The way visually impaired students learn classify them into one of three learning groups; visual learners who learn by sight, tactile learners who learn from touch and auditory learners who learn by hearing. Strategies for each learning style are provided as well as domain specific accommodations and modifications for instrumental, vocal and general music.
Emphasis is put on the fact that instructors must properly assess the abilities of the visually impaired student in question before applying any suggested strategies. In addition, instructors should not abandon other types of learning once a successful strategy is found. Keywords: visual impairment, blind, music, Braille The 1954 ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case motivated parents of children with disabilities to advocate and make a push for equal access to education for their children (Abeles, 2010). The ruling of the 1972 case, Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARA) v.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania stated that “children with mental retardation were entitled to free, appropriate public education (as cited in Abeles, 2010). This ruling led to the 1975 passing of Public Law 94-142, titled Education for All Handicapped Children Act. The law has been revised over the years and is now referred to as the IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Abeles, 2010). Public Law 94-142 has been creating new challenges for teachers since it’s implementation in 1975 by including students with a wide range of disabilities in the everyday classroom through mainstreaming and inclusion.
The purpose of this study is to research and present effective strategies for teaching instrumental, vocal and general music to visually impaired students. Review of Literature The severity of a student’s visual impairment can range from low vision to completely blind. Three different learning styles emerge based on each student’s visual ability; visual, tactual, or auditory (Coates, 2012). Teaching strategies for each of these learning styles will first be examined. The section after will consist of domain specific (instrumental, choral, general music) accommodations and modifications. Visual
Some students who have low vision or are partially sighted can still use their eyes Teaching Music to Visually Impaired Students By crybaby magnifiers or scopes as an optical aid, or have their music enlarged (Coates, 2012). Some students with vision loss prefer reverse polarity background display (black background with white notation) (Igloo, 2005). In addition to enlarged music, special stands can be used to aid the student. The special stands should be made to have two-piece arms that extend and enable the reader to be closer to the music without moving the stands base (Microseconds, 1988).
Enlarged music often leads to multiple age turns, which becomes troublesome for many students. Lime Lighter is an electronic device that displays enlarged versions of scanned music on a screen. Students can advance the written music with a foot pedal while they are playing. A stylus tool can be used to add rehearsal marks to the music and a playback feature can play the written music at tempo. Tactual Tactual learners learn through the sense of touch. These students can learn to read music by using Braille.
Teaching a student to use literary Braille is often easier then going straight to Braille music, which uses a different set of Braille codes (Igloo, 005). Literary Braille allows students to use the Braille alphabet that they are already familiar with to write and read music. Using a small Braille computer or note taker such as Parallelize or Brilliantine, the students can enter the letter name of each note and add an abbreviation such as FL. For flat or SSH. For sharp (Igloo, 2005). Literary Braille is useful for writing notes and pitches but does not translate the concept of meter and rhythm.
An entire music symbol system correlating to the print music system exists, and a large amount of sheet music for individual or group use is available. Taking advantage of existing resources, teachers can provide Braille music so that blind students have the opportunity to learn to read music at the same time that sighted students do. If the effort is successful, the Braille student can read music independently and can participate in ensemble groups or perform as a soloist to the extent that his or her musical ability allows (Somalia, 1998, up. 3). Louis Braille (1809-52) developed the Braille music system using the same six-dot cell used in literary Braille. Students who can already read literary Braille often learn the Braille USIA system much quicker than students who are new to Braille altogether (Berry, 1965). There are two main steps when learning to read Braille music. First, the students must be able to read and recognize the different Braille cells. Next, they have to learn the sound of the rhythms that are associated with each cell (Igloo, 2005). What value is there in being able to read a quarter-note triplet followed by a dotted quarter and an eighth note with your fingertips if you don’t know what those signs sound like in real-time” (Igloo, 2005, n. P. )? Once a student learns to read Braille music it is the teacher’s responsibility to revive the music. Instructors can use many different resources to find Braille music that already exists. The music section of the National Library Service (NILS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is one of the best sources for borrowing Braille music in the United States (Somalia, 1998).
The NILS, offers instrumental music, vocal and choral music, some popular music, librettos, textbooks, instructional method books and music periodicals in addition to recorded courses in beginning guitar, piano, organ, accordion, recorder, voice and theory. Arrangements can be made to coacher, music teacher and student are working together (Somalia, 1998). All borrowed items are sent to the borrower and back to the NILS through postage free mail. Often times Braille versions of printed music do not exist. Goodlier and Toccata are examples of Braille transcription software that use an OCCUR (optical character recognition) program called Sharpen.
This allows print music to be scanned and converted into Braille music (Coates, 2012). Companies (Computer to Help People, Dancing Dots and Valley Braille Service) offer transcription services and charge by the page to transcribe print music into Braille music (Igloo, 2005). Although some skilled musicians have the ability to do so, Braille music is not normally used for sight reading. Tactile learners use it as a tool to memorize small manageable units of music. Once memorized, the small units come together to form longer phrases and eventually a whole song or piece.
Instructors can use this as an opportunity to teach phrasing and form. Auditory Auditory learners have no reading medium and use sound sources (human or recorded) for learning. These tasks require the learner to use imitation and repetition to memorize the material (Coates, 2012). Recording the students’ parts will id the auditory leaner and will allow him or her to practice through imitation without a teacher (Igloo, 2005). Igloo suggests recording the material in three parts. “Begin by recording the student’s part slowly while saying the print-music note names, then record the student’s part in real time.
Conclude the recording with a real-time presentation of the complete ensemble. Hearing the correct names of pitches verbally (e. G. , C an eighth, F an eighth, Ga quarter, AAA half, bar line, quarter rest) prepares the student for using these same terms when learning Braille music” (Igloo, 2005, n. P. ). Igloo finds that blind students prefer older tape player/ recorders because they are easier to operate than new digital recorders with LCD displays and multiple function buttons. Experienced players can also be used as mentors for visually impaired students.
The mentor can play or sing through the student’s part one phrase at a time to help with memorization. Once memorized, the mentor can play or sing harmonies along with the student’s original part, which is enjoyable for both players (Igloo, 2005). Accommodations and Modifications Many of the accommodations and modifications available to visually impaired dents are not domain (instrumental, vocal and general) specific. Some of these accommodations include, positioning within the classroom/rehearsal space, use of extended time, help from a teacher aid, enlargement of music and use of Braille.
Domain specific accommodations and modifications can be found below. Instrumental “Each band instrument required a unique set of skills to be mastered by the performer to demonstrate success on the instrument. Tasks common to both visually-impaired and sighted band students include assembly/maintenance, tone production, and technique; however, certain situations require accommodations” (Coates, 2012, n. . ). The basic assembly of each instrument can be like the flute, clarinet and oboe. Velour dots can provide tactual reference points and help students line up the different parts of the instrument.
Velour dots can also be used on specific finger keys to help the students find proper hand/finger positions (Coates, 2012). The specific construction of certain instruments doesn’t always allow visual learners to get close enough to the music to see even enlarged music. Regular sized music can be folded in half or quarters and put into an adapted marching lyre (Microseconds, 1988). The lyre allows the student to play his or her instrument while Ewing music Just inches from his or her face.
Tactual learners who play instruments that don’t require both hands (trumpet, tuba, baritone or valve trombone) can mount their instrument on a stand leaving a free hand to follow Braille music (Microseconds, 1988). It is a good idea to choose a method book series that comes with CD recordings of each exercise (Somalia, 1998). These types of recordings help auditory learners rehearse and memorize their parts. Vocal “No science is more important to the blind musician than the psychology of music memorization” (Ordering, 1933, up. 10).
Many visually impaired and blind students eave absolute pitch but need memory training to learn extended melodic and harmonic passages (Slaw, 2009). This is especially important for tactile and auditory learners who are visually impaired. Acquiring Braille music, recording parts and using peer mentors are all methods that can help vocalists memorize their parts. Breaking off into soprano, alto, tenor and bass sectionals can help students better hear their parts when first learning new music. General Movement activities are very prevalent in general music settings.
Students with visual impairments are used to moving within a limited space for their own physical retention. As a result, they often feel uncomfortable participating and moving among a class of sighted children (Barnstorm, 1996). Barnstorm explains 3 different “planes of movement”. The vertical plane extends from the floor to the highest reachable point, the horizontal plane extends outward in a circle around the student and the societal plane extends from the tip of a finger pointed up and out to the tip of the toe on the opposite side pointing down and out.
Stretch bands and parachutes can be used to provide a safe space and encourage students to use their full range of actions throughout the different planes. Clear and concise verbal descriptions of the movements and hand-over-hand modeling can also be used to assist movements throughout the classroom (Barnstorm, 1996). Visuals and listening maps are used on a daily basis in the general music classroom. Instructors must create additional resources that can be synthetically used by tactual learners.
Puff paint (a raised paint that the student can feel), sand paper, different textured cloth and pipe cleaners can be manipulated to create different shapes and patterns (Mazurka, 2004). These shapes and patterns can be used o represent, rhythms, college syllables, or even sections of a song in the form of a listening map. Conclusions Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and PARA v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania eventually led to the passing of what is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA demands equal rights for all students with disabilities.
This study provided many strategies, accommodations and modifications to help music teachers educate visually impaired students. Every strategy above requires an extra amount of effort from the instructor. No student is owing to come to beginning band with music already cut to fit a modified marching lyre. Just as a student in second grade won’t come to music class with a tactile listening map that matches the visual aids the other students take advantage of. Although more work is involved, an instructor shouldn’t take on the challenge alone and must build a network of support to help the student succeed (Wheeler, 2010).
This network should include the student, parents, classroom teacher, student aid, Braille teacher and the developmental therapist for vision (DTV). Once established, this network can become a valuable source for support. Additional support and resources can be found through organizations such as the Music Education Network for the Visually Impaired (NEVI) and the National Resource Center for Blind Musicians (NRC). Implications for Practice Before applying any of the strategies listed above, an instructor must first assess the abilities of the student in question.
This can be done by looking at the student’s Individual Education Plan (PIPE), talking to other teachers and having discussions with the parents. However, a one on one assessment with the student is often the most valuable (Coates, 2012). An instructor should tailor his or her lessons to match the torrents and learning style of the individual student. However, he or she should not abandon other types of learning. “It is to the student’s advantage to be able to learn music in several ways: Braille, ear, dictation, or a combination of any of these.