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Level 3, Reactive: reacts to simple patterns in sound

Observation

People detect pattern in sound, potentially of various types. For example, they may show engagement with a series of sounds that are the same, which may (but need not) be produced with a regular beat, at a range of speeds, or with regular change in sound (such as pitch getting higher or lower, or loudness increasing or decreasing). Sounds may be linked consistently to other things and come to represent them symbolically. For example, a windchime may come to represent a particular room, while a bell may mean ‘music session’.

Interpretation

Perceptually, the person concerned has moved beneath the perceptual ‘surface’ to start to recognise musical structure – through the repetition of sounds or their regularity. These relationships may occur in any of the domains of sound, particularly time (exemplified in a regular beat) and pitch, although regular change in loudness is also relatively easy to detect. Such relationships may extend into other perceptual domains, enabling sounds to function symbolically, through association.

R-3

Resources designed for particular groups are available as follows:

R.3.A recognises and responds to the repetition of sounds

Individuals respond to patterns of sounds – made vocally, through everyday soundmakers or musical instruments – that are made through repetition. The sounds may well form a regular beat (see R.3.B), although they need not. Responses may include the production of sounds through repetition or imitation (see P.3 and I.3).

Strategies

In seeking to elicit responses to patterns in sound, it may be most effective to use sounds for which the person concerned has previously shown a preference, as these will be most likely to hold their attention. For example, if they enjoy the sound of a large gong, try beating it, slowly, several times. Does their pleasure appear to intensify? For instance, does a smile become a laugh? Or they may respond positively to some of the vocal sounds you make. Again, observe how they react if you repeat the sounds. If the person you are working with responds to repetition in relation to sounds of a particular quality, you could try extending this to different sounds, to encourage them to attend to the pattern in addition to the quality of the sound itself. Soundabout Music Tracks: Patterns https://www.soundaboutfamily.org.uk/soundabout-music-tracks/learning-to-listen/level-3-patterns/ lead the ear through this process, by presenting patterns of different kinds in everyday and musical contexts, that involve a range of different sounds. Use these as a starting point to build a playlist of different manifesations of repetition in sound. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 48]

Context

Nicholas is blind and severely developmentally delayed, with little speech and echolalia. He is on a summer vacation scheme organised by his school, at which a number of activities are offered, including music. Here, he is listening to patterns in sound that form part of Soundabout Music Tracks https://www.soundaboutfamily.org.uk/soundabout-music-tracks/learning-to-listen/level-3-patterns/. Here is hearing the track of four repeated pitches on the piano, the flute and a female voice for the second time.

Observation

Nicholas listens intently to the patterns. He anticipates the voice (’Ma, ma, ma, ma’), and when the sound comes, it makes him giggle.

Interpretation

Nicholas can process simple patterns in sound of repeated notes.

R.3.B recognises and responds to a regular beat

Individuals may respond to a regular beat by attempting to join in (see I.3) or through extra-musical responses such as smiling or reacting with surprise when it stops.

Strategies

Start by using sounds that the person you are working with is known to find engaging to make a regular beat. Try a moderate speed at first, potentially picking up on any regular movements (such as a flapping arm or rocking) that the person may make. Try varying the beat slightly. Does this affect the way the person moves or responds? Once a reaction – which may involve making sounds, moving or expressing an emotion – is observed more or less consistently, try using different soundmakers and at different dynamic levels (more loudly or more quietly). Does the person you are working with react when a regular beat that has been sounding for some time is stopped? Try Soundabout Music Tracks: Patterns https://www.soundaboutfamily.org.uk/soundabout-music-tracks/learning-to-listen/level-3-patterns/, which present a variety of regular beats using different sounds. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 49]

Context

Finn 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. A music session is underway with his classmates and a number of visiting musicians, and a version of Rockin’ All Over the World is being performed, with reinforcement of the downbeats through clapping and drumming.

Observation

Finn responds very postively to the music – and his engagement with the regular beat is evident in rocking and his efforts at knocking and slapping his table.

Interpretation

Finn can perceive a regular beat in music.

Other video of Finn

To see Finn tapping a regular beat on a drum, see P.3.B (a) (1st video).

Context

Cydney has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Here, she is on a summer vacation scheme organised by her school, at which a number of activities are offered, including music. A music session is starting to get underway with Cydney’s class, and the Hello song from the Tuning In set is being performed, with the help of visiting musicians. A violinist is sitting next to Cydney, playing the melody.

Observation

As the song is counted in, Cydney makes small movements with her head, in time with the beat. When the violin starts to play, she reaches out for the bowing arm, and holds the violinist’s right hand, feeling the regularity of the movements that are made.

Interpretation

Cydney can perceive a regular beat in music.

R.3.C recognises and responds to simple patterns formed through regular change

Individuals may respond to regular change relating to any quality of sound – for example, pitch (going up and down smoothly or with distinct notes), loudness (getting louder or quieter), timbre (regular change in tone colour – eg, from a didgeridoo), and the beat (getting faster or slower). Change may well occur in relation to two qualities of sound at once: a series of notes getting faster and louder, for example.

Strategies

Let the person you are working with experience different forms of regular change in musical sounds: eg, notes going up and down a scale, a single sound getter louder and then quieter again; a beat getting faster or slower. Be attentive to how they react. Do some forms of change evoke a reponse and not others? Try altering features gradually to test and extend perceptual and cognitive understanding of this form of musical structure functioning in different ways. Introduce Soundabout Music Tracks: Patterns https://www.soundaboutfamily.org.uk/soundabout-music-tracks/learning-to-listen/level-3-patterns/ and gauge the person’s response to the different kinds of pattern that are presented. Build up a playlist of everyday and musical sounds that exhibit regular change. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 50]

Context

Darryl has severe learning difficulties. He expresses his feelings and communicates through facial expressions, vocalisation and movement. Here he is in class with a teaching assistant and a teacher (off camera).

Observation

The teacher plays a regular beat on the drum, increasing in loudness, and the teaching assistant claps to the beat. After around 12 seconds, Darryl becomes very animated and seeks physical contact with the teaching assistant – to hold his hands as he claps.

Interpretation

Darryl has a sense of regular change in sound, and responds with positive emotions to an increase in dynamics.

R.3.D responds to musical sounds used to symbolise other things

Individuals recognise and respond to the fact that sounds may be used to symbolise other things – for example, windchimes may represent a particular room and a small bell may mean ‘music’.

Strategies

Associate particular people, activities or places with certain sounds to try to establish symbolic connections between them. The sounds may be additional to whatever is represented (such as a jangly bracelet to symbolise a particular person) or they may feature as part of it (such as a recording of splashing water to stand for the hydrotherapy pool). Once a connection is made, it may be possible to separate the sound from what it represents to promote anticipation – for example, by playing a bell consistently a few moments before music sessions begin. Motivation is key to learning, so use sounds that a person finds attractive to represent people, activities or places that they like. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. [DOC 51]

Context

Two classes of children with severe, or profound and multiple difficulties are shown in engaging in music sessions designed to promote a wider awareness of self and other, and of place. In the first, a set of small bells are used to symbolise the classroom, and in the second, different soundmakers are used to enhance children’s identities.

Observation

The children respond in different ways and with differing degrees of clarity when sound symbols are heard.

Interpretation

The children appear to be in different stages of awareness of the meaning of ‘sound symbols’.

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 reacts to one type of simple pattern in sound

Example 1

Emma is 13. She has severe learning difficulties and very limited functional language. She really enjoys it when her older sister plays a beat on her drum kit, and will sometimes say or sign for ‘more’.

Example 2

Ollie is six. He has profound and multiple learning difficulties. He likes it when his mother makes ‘whoo’ sounds with her voice that start low and go up high, and he smiles and makes eye contact.

Achieving

Consistently reacts to two types of simple pattern in sound

Example 1

Jack is 18. He has severe learning difficulties and is non-verbal. When his younger brother practises his scales on the piano, it always seems to make Jack smile, sometimes bursting into a fit of the giggles. Jack also likes it when his brother plays loud chords repeatedly. It doesn’t seem to matter what notes he uses, as long as they are loud and have a regular beat.

Example 2

Ramona is seven years old. She has severe learning difficulties. She loves it when her music teacher plays a game with the class, having the children each play a drum getting louder and faster and then stopping. Ramona won’t join in – she just likes to listen. She also enjoys it when her mother makes patterns with her voice like ‘ma, ma, ma, ma, ma’ and ‘pa, pa, pa, pa, pa’.

Excelling

Consistently reacts to at least three types of simple pattern in sound

Example 1

Maria is in her twenties. She has severe learning difficulties. She loves her music therapy sessions – especially just listening to her music therapist when he plays his celtic harp and sings, and best of all when he plays ‘anticipation’ games. These take various forms. For example, the therapist will sing a short run of three notes, then he will add an extra one to make it four, and so on. Suddenly, in the middle of a run, he will stop, and Maria will laugh and sign for more. Another favourite game is when the therapist taps a regular beat on the body of the harp with his fingers – keeping going for ... how long? Then, without warning he stops. again, Maria giggles and indicates that she wants him to do it again. The therapist does a similar thing, plucking each of the strings of the harp in turn, gradually getting higher. Maria watches and listens carefully. Ths music therapist always always stops before he reaches the end, and Maria taps his hand excitedly, wanting him to finish.

Example 2

Hakim is four. He has severe learning difficulties. His father is a drummer, and Hakim loves to watch and listen when he plays. When he hears a slow beat on the bass drum, Hakim will march slowly round the room. A roll on the snare drum that gets louder and louder makes him shake his body ever more vigorously. When the set of cow bells are played high to low, Hakim starts with his arms up in the air, and then moves down, down, down, until he is crouching on the floor.