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Level 3, Interactive: copies other’s sounds and/or is aware of own sounds being copied

Observation

People copy what they hear at the most basic level – individual sounds or simple patterns in sound – and recognise their own sounds or simple patterns being copied by another person.

Interpretation

People can use repetition and regularity in the context of interaction with another person, and come to appreciate reciprocity – realising that imitation is a two-way street.

I-3

Resources designed for particular groups are available as follows:

I.3.A shows awareness of own sounds being imitated

Individuals show awareness of their own sounds, whether produced vocally or using everyday soundmakers or instruments, being imitated. They may show this through giving a pleasurable response when someone copies a sound they make, or intentionally make another sound to be imitated.

Strategies

Wait for the person you are working with to make a sound, and copy it when they stop. Then wait. Do they notice? Be empathetic to any reaction they may make. It may take many repetitions for the person to realise that they can influence what you do. And it may be that the effect is stronger if imitation occurs as part of a group session, whereby a small sound elicits a substantial response. Bear in mind that imitation may be multisensory in nature, involving, for example, vibration being felt through sharing a large drum, or copying movements as well as sound. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 56]

Context

‘A’ has severe learning difficulties and has no expressive language. She is known to be motivated to engage with other people through vocal sounds and imitation. Here she is starting one of her regular sessions with the music therapist (who is also the music teacher) at her school.

Observation

‘A’ vocalises ‘uh-ba’. The music therapist copies this sound using her voice, and gives the sound a musical context, first by playing its rhythm on the drum, and then by providing a simple improvised accompaniment on the piano. ‘A’ produces other vocal sounds, which are taken up by the music therapist in similar fashion. ‘A’ smiles and makes eye contact, and makes further vocal sounds with increasing frequency.

Interpretation

‘A’s vocalising shows both consistency and coherence, with repetition as well as variety. This suggests intentionality. The fact that ‘A’ smiles and makes eye contact points to an awareness of the music therapist’s imitation of her sounds. Further observation would be required to ascertain the impact on ‘A’s contribution of the simple musical framework provided by the therapist (which in her mind scaffolds, strengthens and sustains the emerging musical dialogue).

Other video of 'A'

To see ‘A’ imitating musical sounds made by the therapist, go to I.3.B (b) (2nd video).

I.3.B imitates the sounds made by someone else

Individuals copy sounds made by another or others. The imitation may vary in how faithfully it follows the original. The intentionality driving the repetition may be shown through the individual's capacity to vary the nature of sound they produce.

Strategies

Start by sharing an instrument or other soundmaker that the person is known to enjoy playing. Something large like a ‘gathering drum’ is ideal, with which you can both have contact at the same time. Make a sound – a tap or a scratch (to match the physical abilities of the person you are working with) – and wait. Offer encouragement through eye contact, or a smile or a small prompt (such as a gentle touch on the hand). Don’t be afraid of waiting. Experience suggests that the necessary processing and planning to move may take 15 seconds or even more. Once imitation is established on a single soundmaker, try using two that are identical. In this way, it is inevitable that any sound that the person you are working with makes will be the same or similar to the one you have produced. Beyond this, see if it is possible to introduce two different instruments or other soundmakers that the person you are working with is able to choose between – such as a shaker and some bells. This choice will give an indication as to the intentionality of the person you are working with to copy what you do. The voice can be a powerful tool for imitation too – start by producing a sound that the person you’re working with tends to make, and gradually extend this to others. Movement-sensitive technology, including touchscreens and beams, can be used too. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 57]

Context

Aaron has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Here, he is on a summer vacation scheme organised by his school, at which a number of activities are offered, including music. Here, he is interacting with two violinists as they play the Hello song from the Tuning In set.

Observation

The pitch of Aaron’s vocalising varies according to which octave the tune is played in – the first time lower and the second time higher. Some of his vocal sounds approximate to the pitches that the violins are playing.

Interpretation

Aaron has an emerging ability to copy pitch vocally.

Other videos of Aaron

To see Aaron engaging with another person through sound and touch, see I.2.D. To see him imitating a regular beat, see I.3.D (b) (2nd video).

Context

'A’ has severe learning difficulties and has no expressive language. She is known to be motivated to engage with other people through vocal sounds and imitation. Here she is in one of her regular sessions with the music therapist (who is also the music teacher) at her school.

Observation

The music therapist plays an A above middle C on the piano – a pitch that she knows from previous experience is well within ‘A’s preferred vocal range – and she approximates to it vocally, with a sustained vocalisation that starts above the note, drops down to it and then descends further. The music therapist contextualises the pitch harmonically with an F major chord on the piano, and she joins in the vocalising with short, imitative improvised melodic phrases. ‘A’s second vocal contribution starts on the target pitch (A above middle C) before moving down, after which ‘A’ smiles and makes eye contact.

Interpretation

‘A’ is developing the ability to match pitches vocally. Evidence of her intentionality is shown in her smiling and eye contact when she produces the ‘correct’ pitch straight away on her second attempt.

Other video of 'A'

To see ‘A’ producing vocal sounds for her music therapist to copy, go to I.3.A.

I.3.C recognises own patterns in sound being imitated

Individuals recognise that their own patterns in sound, whether produced vocally or using instruments or other soundmakers, are copied by someone else – recognition that may be expressed through further musical activity (eg, the production of the pattern again) or in other ways, such as through the expression of pleasure.

Strategies

In a quiet environment, copy any pattern in sound that the person you are working with produces, and be responsive to any reaction that they may make to your imitation of them. The pattern may be made vocally, or on an instrument or other soundmaker, or through using movement-sensitive technology. The important thing is that it is the pattern that is imitated, not (necessarily) the sounds themselves. So a regular series of four taps on a drum, for example, uses the same pattern as four shakes of a bell-tree or four scratches on a tambourine. Or a vocalisation that rises in pitch, or gets louder, could start anywhere within the vocal range. To introduce the idea of pattern rather than sound being copied, try working with two soundmakers that are the same at first, and then gradually change them (so at the beginning you and the person you are working with both have a small drum, for example, and then change your instrument to a tambourine, and then a cowbell – is the response the same?) Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 58]

Context

Amy has moderate learning difficulties and visual impairment. Here, she is on a summer vacation scheme organised by her school, at which a number of activities are offered, including music. In this excerpt, the class are working on producing regular beats of different speeds, using the analogy of ticking clocks.

Observation

Amy taps a regular beat on the drum, in the expectation that it will be imitated. It is copied – at different speeds – showing that it is the pattern that is being copied rather than the beats themselves. Amy smiles as she hears her contribution being taken up by others.

Interpretation

Amy can produce a simple pattern in an interactive musical context in the expectation that it will be imitated.

I.3.D imitates simple patterns in sound made by another (through repetition, regularity and/or regular change)

Individuals imitate patterns in sound made by another person or other people. Patterns may incorporate repetition, regularity (eg, a steady beat) and/or regular change (in relation to pitch, loudness, timbre or the beat). The imitation of different forms of patterning may be combined (eg, a series of regularly spaced notes may ascend in pitch). The sounds may be vocal or produced on instruments or other soundmakers.

Strategies

Provide patterns in sound that you are aware the person you are working with finds enjoyable and may wish to imitate (and that are within their physical capacity to produce). Practitioners should be overtly appreciative of any attempts at imitation that occur. If the notion of copying patterns (rather than sounds) is proving tricky for the person concerned to grasp, you could try modelling imitation with fellow practitioners or friends. Working in a group ‘passing a pattern around’ may provide the experience and motivation that is needed. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 59]

Context

Shivan is profoundly autistic and blind. He has no expressive language. He loves music, however. In the video, he is having one of his weekly sessions with his music teacher.

Observation

The music teacher makes a vocal pattern with rapid repetitions of ‘me’. After a pause, Shivan imitates her pattern – repeating ‘me’ at a slower rate, with some fluctuation in pitch and change in vowel sound.

Interpretation

Shivan can process, remember and reproduce a simple vocal pattern. The difference in speed and the fluctuations in pitch and timbre can reasonably be attributed to Shivan’s still-developing vocal control. The fact that there are differences between the music teacher’s model and his imitation of it actually shows it is the pattern that he is imitating (as well as some of the surface features of the sounds) rather than the surface features alone.

Other videos of Shivan

To see Shivan reacting to sounds getting louder, go to R.2.B (b) (2nd video). To see him making patterns on the keyboard, go to P.3.C (b) (2nd video). To see him reacting to the Goodbye song at Level 5, go to R.5.D. To see him singing a whole song, go to I.5.A (a) (1st video).

Context

Aaron has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Here, he is on a summer vacation scheme organised by his school, at which a number of activities are offered, including music. Here, he is joining in with a performance of Pachelbel’s Canon, involving a number of visiting musicians, by playing a set of bells.

Observation

Aaron’s playing approximates to the beat of the music, expressed through changes in harmony and melody.

Interpretation

Aaron can detect the regular pattern of change in the music, and can reproduce it, approximately. It may be that physical constraints are responsible for some of the variation in his playing.

Other videos of Aaron

To see Aaron matching pitches, see I.3.B (a) (1st video).

Context

Freddie is on the autism spectrum and has limited expressive language. He spends a good deal of time listening to excerpts of recorded music that he chooses, and will play them over and over again. He has absolute pitch. Here he is with his piano teacher having one of his weekly lessons.

Observation

Freddie’s music teacher seeks to gain his attention by playing a pattern of notes that he believes Freddie will find engaging – an ascending chromatic scale, which starts on middle C and goes up one octave. Freddie immediately copies the pattern vocally and starts to descend chromatically before running out of breath.

Interpretation

Freddie grasps a pattern based on equal intervals between a series of notes, and can emulate them vocally. His understanding and reproduction of the pattern (in addition to the pitches themselves), is shown by the fact that he transforms it – turning ascent into descent. His sense of absolute pitch, in which each note recognised as being distinct and remembered, helps in this process and enables him to sing a passage in tune that most people would find very difficult.

Other videos of Freddie

To see Freddie doing five-finger exercises on the piano, go to [P.4.B (b) (2nd video). To see him improvising on Twinkle, Twinkle, go to P.5.B.

Assessment

The complete Sounds of Intent assessment matrix is to be found here [DOC 60] and downloadable assessment sheets here. [DOCS 61 & 62]

Emerging

Consistently recognises own individual sounds being copied or copies another’s individual sounds

Example 1

Drew is 14. He has severe learning difficulties and is on the autism spectrum. He is non-verbal, but he will sometimes copy individual speech sounds, echolalically, that attract his attention when people talk to him.

Example 2

Laura is two. She is developmentally delayed, and makes vowel sounds like ‘ah’ and ‘ooh’ when she interacts with her parents. She sometimes smiles, fleetingly, when they copy her.

Achieving

Consistently recognises own individual sounds being copied and copies another’s individual sounds

Example 1

Robert is nine years old. He has severe learning difficulties and cerebral palsy. His learning support assistant at school has one-to-one sessions with him in the music therapy room, and Robert makes a real effort to copy the sounds she makes with her voice, and he loves it when she copies him.

Example 2

Aishling is 18. She has profound and multiple learning difficulties. She likes playing ‘copy games’ with instruments. Her therapist either shakers a shaker or rattles a rattle, and Aishling, with an instrument in each hand, will pick the right one and play it in response. She especially likes it when they play the game in reverse, and her therapist copies what she does.

Excelling

Consistently recognises own simple pattern or patterns in sound being copied and copies another’s simple pattern or patterns in sound

Example 1

Arran is 21. He is severely autistic, with little functional language. However, he has struck up a great relationship with a local African musician who visits him at home. The musician will play different beats on the bongoes, and make whooping vocal sounds and patterns of clicks with his tongue as they dance. Arran does his best to copy, and has recently tried making up his own vocal sounds and beats and stamping patterns for the musician to copy.

Example 2

Feng-Ling is three. She has a moderate developmental delay. She loves playing games with her older brother in which they copy each other. Her brother goes ‘bang, bang, bang’ on the drum, and Feng-Ling responds with whatever instrument she has to hand. Then she taps a beat, expecting him to copy her. Next, she may play a pattern going up the black keys on their keyboard, and he will copy her. He is likely to respond by going up and down the white notes, and she will imitate him. They love to chant too, as they stomp around, copying each other’s sounds and movements as they march.