Ï

Level 5, Interactive: performs and/or improvises short and simple pieces of music with other people, which may increase in complexity over time

Observation

People create or re-create music with others using ensemble skills that may develop and become more refined over time.

Interpretation

People can attend to others’ singing or playing while making music themselves, and they can adjust the tempo and (potentially) the pitch of their part to fit; they are also aware of their own potential influence in ensemble situations.

I-5

Resources designed for particular groups are available as follows:

I.5.A performs simple pieces simultaneously with others, sharing a common part

Individuals play or sing simple pieces with others in which participants sing or play the same thing

Strategies

Hearing people making music in a group can provide a powerful motivation to join in – though remember that listening is an important preliminary step in order for learning to occur most efficiently, so allow plenty of time (over many sessions if necessary) for this to occur. It is important to appreciate that attending to others while singing or playing oneself is a difficult skill to learn, since it means listening to two things at once – an external stimulus and an internally generated sounds – with ongoing checking and, if necessary, modification of timing and tuning to ensure one’s contribution continues to fit. People may find it easiest to start with simple rhythms (without specific pitches), since it reduces the processing load. Singing can be the next step, followed by melody (or harmony) instruments, if this is possible. The advantage of a group singing or playing the same part at the same time is the scaffolding it offers any one participant. If they forget or lose concentration at any point, the stream of music offers an ever-present prompt to help them get back in the flow.

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

Sally starts singing the Slowly and Quickly song from Tuning In, tapping a drum with her fingers in time with the beat. Shivan joins her after the first iteration of ‘slowly’, singing in tune and with clear enunciation of the vowel sounds of the words. At one point, Sally waits for him, and another occasion leaves a gap to encourage him to maintain his contribution.

Interpretation

Shivan can process, remember and reproduce a simple melody, including the sounds of the words. The scaffolding offered by another voice on the same part appears to help him to continue beyond individual motifs – to link them together.

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 as a younger boy imitating a simple vocal pattern, go to I.3.D (a) (1st video). To see him reacting to the Goodbye song, go to R.5.D.

Context

Nicole is blind, has severe learning difficulties and is on the autism spectrum. However, she has absolute pitch, and enjoys listening to music, which can evoke strong emotional responses in her. She has taught herself to play melodies on the keyboard, which she prefers to do using her left hand. She has recently started having piano lessons, and the video clip is taken from one of those. To sustain her concentration as well as improving her technique and fluency on the piano keyboard, her teacher encourages her to play pieces in different keys (typically ascending by a semitone with each iteration).

Observation

Nicole plays the tune of She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain in F sharp major while her teacher sings and plays the tune an octave lower with simple chords in the left hand. Nicole stops playing after the first phrase and her teacher has to encourage her to continue, which she does.

Interpretation

Nicole can play a part shared by others and, with encouragement, will play an entire melody.

Context

Gracie is blind and on the autism spectrum. She has absolute pitch and enjoys picking out tunes on the keyboard or piano with her right hand. She has recently started piano lessons. Here she is visiting a specialist music teacher in London, who is working with her in order to assess what pedagogical strategies may be best for Gracie going forward. The musical savant, Derek Paravicini, and Gracie’s family are also present.

Observation

The specialist teacher encourages Gracie to play One, Two, Three, Four, Five by singing and playing the tune, complete with chords. Derek also sings along. Gracie joins in, playing and singing. She holds on to the teacher’s arm with her left hand for reassurance. Once she is ‘in the flow’, he gently moves her hand from his arm, and guides her to play a bass line, hand-over-hand then hand-under-hand, so she feels in control.

Interpretation

Gracie can sing and play a part shared by others, and she shows growing confidence to maintain that part against a rich harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment and, at the end, against a bass line that she plays.

Other videos of Gracie

To see Gracie at a later stage improvising with the specialist music teacher, go to I.5.C (a) (1st video).

Context

Romy is on the autism spectrum, has severe learning difficulties and is non-verbal. Despite this, she has absolute pitch and responds very strongly to music. Here, she is having one of her weekly lessons with her piano teacher. As ever, her father is present. Romy finds it difficult to accept ideas or guidance offered by other people, and the theme from Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn was one of the first she came to tolerate, and then quickly became obsessed with, playing it with her teacher over and over again. (This obsession lasted for a number of years.) Here, the teacher is encouraging her to move on to the end of the piece at the appropriate time (rather than cycling through endless repetitions of the first 18 bars), and to use both hands to play the melody in octaves. (Subsequently he taught her a simple bass line to play in the left hand.) There are certain idiosyncracies in the way she plays the tune (which depart from the original), which no amount of correction suggested by the teacher can shift.

Observation

Romy plays the theme with her right hand. Her characteristic idiosyncratic version of the tune approaching the first imperfect cadence is in evidence. Her teacher reminds her through naming the note, singing and playing the necessary chord more forcefully to move on to the second section. As the tune returns, he encourages to play with both hands, which she does briefly. Romy cycles back to the beginning of the theme rather than playing the ending. She is distracted on two occasions, trying to the view the workings of the piano behind the music rest. Nonetheless, she appears happy and engaged, and seems to be able to play the tune without conscious effort, rarely looking at her hands.

Interpretation

Romy has learnt and can play an entire tune in ternary form (with a middle section and a return to the opening). However, she does not yet grasp the full structure of the theme, with its different ending, and instead of

||: A1 :||: B A2 :||

Romy plays

A1 B A1 B A1 B A1 B...

This suggests that she can grasp musical structures at the level of two alternating phrases (here, A1 and B), but not beyond that, where three components are involved (here, A1, B and A2).

Other videos of Romy

To see Romy reacting in a sensory way to the sound of the piano, go to R.2.D (b) (2nd video). To see her recognising a motif being repeated, go to R.4.B. To see her responding to different motifs being juxtaposed, go to R.4.C. To see her linking motifs by varying them, go to P.4.B (c) (3rd video). To see her reproducing a motif with which is is familiar, go to P.4.A (c) (3rd video). To see her playing a motif for someone else to copy, go to I.4.A. To see her juxtaposing different motifs, go to I.4.C (a) (1st video). To see her choosing songs, go to R.5.A. To see her learning the fingering for a scale on the piano, go to [P.5.D (a) (1st video). To see her playing a number of scales on the keyboard, go to P.5.D (b) (2nd video). To see her playing a Bach prelude, go to P.5.D (c) (3rd video). To see her playing a piece with another musician, each with a different part, go to I.5.B (b) (2nd video). To see her showing a mature response to music, go to R.6.A (b) (2nd video).

Context

Myles has moderate learning difficulties, and tends to lack confidence. However, he possesses absolute pitch and loves music. He is playing his cello with other young players at school.

Observation

Myles can maintain a line on the cello with other players, in time and in tune.

Interpretation

Myles has the musical understanding, memory and technique to reproduce melodies on the cello, and can adjust his timing and tuning to fit with others playing the same part.

Other videos of Myles

To see Myles maintaining the same part in a round, go to I.5.B (c) (3rd video).

I.5.B performs with others, using increasingly developed ensemble skills and maintaining an independent part

Individuals play or sing with others, maintaining an independent part (to a greater or lesser extent), and with increasingly developed ensemble skills (performing in time and, where appropriate, in tune with others)

Strategies

With fellow musicians, model ensemble playing using different parts, before encouraging the person you are working with to join in with one of them. You could begin by performing a piece with two parts, where one is a drone or ostinato, or is in any case simpler than the other. Simple canons or rounds could follow, followed by textures comprising two independent parts or more, but initially with little or no syncopation or complex dissonances. How complex is it possible to get with the person you are working with? Can they maintain their part without support? Bear in mind that those with absolute pitch may be particularly good at holding a line, no matter how advanced the harmonies that are used.

Context

Fedor has severe learning difficulties and is on the autism spectrum. He has limited receptive and little expressive language. When he first learnt to say words it was using an unpitched (’growly’) voice, though at the time of the video, things are changing: he has recently found his singing voice, and is enjoying trying it out, and this in turn is helping his speech. Fedor lives in Moscow with his family, whose first language is Russian, though his parents are fluent English speakers. Fedor can read English and Russian, although his understanding is very limited. He can also read music, and is a competent sightreader at the piano. He has absolute pitch and started to teach himself to play the keyboard before he was three years old. He had lessons from the age of four with a number of different teachers. He can now play pieces of moderate difficulty from the Western classical piano repertoire.

Observation

Fedor sings Fly Me to the Moon to a pre-recorded guitar accompaniment. His sense of timing is good, while his ability to sing in tune is more variable. He produces most of the words (in English).

Interpretation

Fedor can maintain an independent vocal part against a sophisticated jazz accompaniment. The subtleties in phrasing at times suggest that he has learnt the piece by listening to a professional recording. Any anomalies in tuning can be ascribed to his lack of vocal experience rather than perceptual problems. His ability to reproduce the English lyrics is probably attributable to his ability to remember them as a series of sounds rather than as words with meaning.

Other videos of Fedor

To see Fedor playing the piano, accompanying his mother singing, go to I.5.B (e) (5th video).

Context

Romy is on the autism spectrum, has severe learning difficulties and is non-verbal. Despite this, she has absolute pitch and responds very strongly to music. Here, she is having one of her weekly lessons with her piano teacher. As ever, her father is present. Romy finds it difficult to accept ideas or guidance offered by other people, and allowing herself to be accompanied as she plays tunes represents real progress. Here, she is playing the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It, largely with her right hand, while her teacher plays chords beneath. His aim is to extend the length of her period of cooperation by modulating up a semitone between versus, without stopping the music. This offers sufficient variety to keep Romy’s attention while being enough of ‘the same thing again’ to avoid her neophobia being triggered.

Observation

The video begins with their playing in mid-flow, in A flat major. The teacher modulates to A and Romy follows. At the end of the second phrase she moves briefly to B flat major and then back down to A flat. The teacher follows her, continuing the same simple accompaniment comprising a bassline and chords in the right hand on the off beats, matching the swing rhythm of the melody. Next, the teacher again moves the music up to A major, and changes to a straight, syncopated rhythm. Romy follows the modulation and maintains the swing feel of the melody, keeping time with the background beat at the level of bar (the two rhythms come into phase only once a bar, on each down beat). Romy abruptly moves the third phrase back to A flat major. The whole process appears to be effortless for her. She rarely looks at her hands, and often turns to smile at her father or her teacher. Nonetheless, she is happy and engaged.

Interpretation

Romy clearly has a good grasp of how the major tonal system works, and how tunes can be transposed. She has the capacity to do this without conscious effort, it seems. It is not immediately obvious why she introduces rapid changes of key in the current context. It’s a strategy that Romy often employs with musicians she does not know – apparently as a way of keeping control of the musical narrative. That is not the case here, though, where the changes seem, if anything, to be playful in nature.

Other videos of Romy

To see Romy reacting in a sensory way to the sound of the piano, go to R.2.D (b) (2nd video). To see her playing a pattern on the piano, go to P.3.A (b) (2nd video). To see her recognising a motif being repeated, go to R.4.B. To see her responding to different motifs being juxtaposed, go to R.4.C. To see her linking motifs by varying them, go to P.4.B (c) (3rd video). To see her reproducing a motif with which is is familiar, go to P.4.A (c) (3rd video). To see her playing a motif for someone else to copy, go to I.4.A. To see her juxtaposing different motifs, go to I.4.C (a) (1st video). To see her choosing songs, go to R.5.A. To see her learning the fingering for a scale on the piano, go to P.5.D (a) (1st video). To see her playing a number of scales on the keyboard, go to P.5.D (b) (2nd video). To see her playing a Bach prelude, go to P.5.D (c) (3rd video). To see her playing a piece with another musician, sharing a common part, go to I.5.A (d) (4th video). To see her showing a mature response to music, go to R.6.A (b) (2nd video).

Context

Myles has moderate learning difficulties, and tends to lack confidence. However, he possesses absolute pitch and loves music. He is playing his cello with other young players at school.

Observation

Myles can maintain a line on the cello while other players play the same melody at different times in the form of a round.

Interpretation

Myles the musical understanding, memory and technique to reproduce melodies on the cello, and can adjust his timing and tuning to fit with others playing the same part at different times.

Other videos of Myles

To see Myles playing the same part as other people, at the same time, go to I.5.A (e) (5th video).

Context

Liam has moderate learning difficulties. He has a special affinity for music, and enjoys accompanying himself on the omnichord as he sings. Here he is with his teacher at school.

Observation

Liam accompanies his teacher on the first part of Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen, using the correct chords (and at the same pitch as the original song). It is slightly slower than the original, though this may be due to the physical difficulty of strumming the chords quickly enough.

Interpretation

Liam has internalised the chords of the opening part of Crazy Little Thing Called Love and can reproduce them to accompany his music teacher in the song.

Other video of Liam

To see Liam himself singing while he accompanies himself on the omnichord, go to P.5.A (b) (2nd video).

Context

Fedor has severe learning difficulties and is on the autism spectrum. He has limited receptive and little expressive language. Fedor lives in Moscow with his family, whose first language is Russian, though his parents are fluent English speakers. Fedor can read English and Russian, although his understanding is very limited. He can also read music, and is a competent sightreader at the piano. He has absolute pitch and started to teach himself to play the keyboard before he was three years old. He had lessons from the age of four with a number of different teachers. He can now play pieces of moderate difficulty from the Western classical piano repertoire. Here, he is working through the Tuning In book with this mother, which she is using to assist in the development of his expressive language.

Observation

Fedor’s mother sings Who’s Sitting Next to Me, and he accompanies, sight reading. He says his name at the end at the appropriate juncture.

Interpretation

Fedor can sightread a relatively straightforward piano part to accompany a singer.

Other videos of Fedor

To see Fedor singing, go to I.5.B (a) (1st video).

I.5.C improvises with others, repeating, varying and/or building on the material that is offered in simple ways

Individuals improvise with others, deriving their material to a greater or lesser extent from what is offered by other members of the group

Strategies

With fellow musicians, model patterns of improvisation in which material is imitated, in very simple ways at first, and encourage the person you are working with to do the same. It may be easiest to start with ostinato forms, where a repeated bass line or series of harmonies supports a melodic or rhythmic motif that can be repeated or varied on each appearance. In a group, variants of the motif can be ‘passed round’ from one participant to the next. More complex textures can be built up if each person continues to sing or play their contribution while others are added.

Context

Gracie is blind and on the autism spectrum. She has absolute pitch and enjoys picking out tunes on the keyboard or piano with her right hand. Gracie is playing at one of the The Amber Trust’s annual concerts (which was held online). She is playing spontaneously and unrehearsed with the specialist teacher whom she visits from time to time.

Observation

The teacher suggests playing Twinkle, Twinkle, and they count in together. As usual, Gracie plays the tune with her right hand. She keeps hold of the teacher’s right hand with her left, initially for reassurance, though it also seems to help her feel the changes of tempo he makes. The first verse is in C major. Without explaining what he is doing, the teacher makes a slight ‘rit.’ at the end of the verse, and harmonises the last C with a dominant seventh chord in C sharp major. Intuitively, Gracie starts to play the next verse in that key. Towards the end of that verse, the teacher introduces a new, repeated-note rhythm, which he further develops in the next verse, which is in D. Gracie latches on to the changes straight away, and improvises, using the rhythm to modify the melody in a simple way. The teacher introduces a substantial ‘rit.’ at the end of that, third verse and modulates to E flat major. Gracie instinctively anticipates what he is going to do, and they start playing the next, fourth verse together at a slower tempo, quietly and with a legato feel. Towards the end of that verse, Gracie asserts her wish for the next to be faster and louder, by pushing the tempo (both on the piano keys and on the teacher’s wrist). The fifth verse, in E, is quicker, louder and more declamatory. A final, sixth verse, in F, follows at a more rapid pace still. Throughout the performance, all the changes of key, tempo, rhythm and articulation are conveyed through the music itself, in a manner that is increasingly a two-way process – the teacher leading at the beginning, but Gracie increasingly influencing what happens as the improvisation unfolds.

Interpretation

Gracie can play a tune that she knows by ear, and transpose it, and she can improvise in simple ways (through changes of rhythm) by picking up on the ideas that another player offers.

Other video of Gracie

To see Gracie playing a tune at the same time as others, go to I.5.A (c) (3rd video).

Context

Nick is blind, has severe learning difficulties and is on the autism spectrum. Nick started to teach himself to play the piano when he was 18 months old, when his sense of absolute pitch started to manifest itself, and, now at school, he has regular sessions with a music teacher. Like many self-taught children who are on the autism spectrum, Nick has his own musical agenda, and his teacher has been coaxing Nick to work with him by playing together, trying to extend the length of time over which this cooperation occurs, and encouraging Nick to take on board ideas that he offers. Around the time of the video, the teacher’s strategy was simply to play a ‘goodbye’ song – which Nick would join in as he knew it meant the end of having to play with someone else! The teacher then very gradually extended this period of cooperation by adding an additional verse a semitone higher each session. So after 12 sessions, the song was played in every key.

Observation

The music teacher plays a verse of the song in F major. Nick opts not to join in initially (playing a G sharp that is left over from the verse before, that is discordant against the chord of F that the teacher is playing). The teacher waits for him, and after a pause Nick joins in with the tune and harmonies – playing fluently with both hands. The teacher modulates to F sharp major, and Nick joins in, building on the material that is offered by embellishing the melody, and subsequently reharmonising it to finish the verse in E flat minor. He smiles, evidently finding the interaction pleasurable.

Interpretation

Nick has internalised, and can reproduce, a straightforward piece on the piano, melodically, harmonically and rhythmically. He can also transpose it fluently into different keys. He can improvise variations on the piece that fit with what another player is doing. This shows that Nick has an intuitive grasp of the Western tonal system and some of its rules and conventions, and that he can apply these to create new material on a given melodic, harmonic and rhythmic framework.

Other video of Nick

To see Nick as an adult, playing the cello in an orchestra, go to I.6.D (a) (1st video).

I.5.D improvises with others, consciously offering material for them to use

Individuals generate material for others to improvise on in the course of group work

Strategies

As a continuation of I.5.C, ensure that ideas that the person you are working with are taken up and imitated by others. This process may be easiest for them to grasp at first in simple, rhythmic textures, with only two parts, before moving on to more complex improvised pieces, which make greater demands on perception, concentration and memory.

Context

Michael has moderate learning difficulties. He also has absolute pitch and enjoys playing the piano. Here he is improvising with his music therapist.

Observation

Michael offers fragments of melody that fit with the established harmony. The music therapist copies them, which continuing to provide harmonic support, to Michael’s evident pleasure – smiling at one point. Michael then determines a shift from B flat minor to B minor, and the process continues.

Interpretation

Michael’s improvisation shows that he has an intuitive understanding of Western minor tonality. He understands that he can offer musical ideas into an improvised duet, and they will be taken up by the other player.

Other videos of Michael

To see Michael playing a piece from the piano repertoire for beginners, go to P.5.A (a) (1st video). To see him playing one of his own compositions with his music therapist, go to P.5.C.

Assessment

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

Emerging

Six levels: performs or improvises pieces as part of an ensemble at the level of ‘Initial’ (pass, merit and distinction) or Grade 1 (pass, merit and distinction) in the UK public music examination system

Example 1

Indie is eight. She is on the autism spectrum and has only a little functional language. She loves playing the ukulele, and loves accompanying her mother using two or three chords, as she sings simple songs .

Example 2

Alan is 10. He has moderate learning difficulties and is on the autism spectrum. He has joined ‘recorder club’ at school, and plays along with the other four children in the group, sometimes in unison, though recently the teacher has been showing them how to play rounds.

Achieving

Six levels: performs or improvises pieces as part of an ensemble at the level of Grade 2 (pass, merit and distinction) or Grade 3 (pass, merit and distinction) in the UK public music examination system

Example 1

Sophia is 15. She is on the autism spectrum and has limited language. She loves to play the drums, and her music teacher at school has got Sophia and some of her friends together to form a band. The teacher helps by playing the keyboard. They have a go at peforming some early rock and roll songs, and Sophia keeps time well, and even manages simple fills at the ends of some phrases.

Example 2

Jose is 11 years old. He has moderate learning difficulties. He first tried the violin three years ago with his class, and he has stuck at it. He has regular lessons and has joined his primary school’s string group. They play very simple arrangements of popular pieces, and Jose plays with the second violins, sharing a stand with a friend.

Excelling

Six levels: performs or improvises pieces as part of an ensemble at the level of Grade 4 (pass, merit and distinction) or Grade 5 (pass, merit and distinction) in the UK public music examination system

Example 1

Andre is 18. He has moderate learning difficulties. He has been playing the flute since he was 11, and has gradually progressed through the early grade books (though without taking the exams). He has joined a local inclusive music-making group, which welcomes all-comers. He gets on best with some of the folk songs they perform, and his teacher has written him his own part to play, which Andre can keep to while the other members of the group make a range of vocal and instrumental contributions.

Example 2

Jade is 16. She is on the autism spectrum. In music lessons at school, she loves working with a friend to create pieces of music on her computer. They use a basic sequencing package. Jade and her friend use some of the sounds that are available digitally and record themselves singing too. The results are becoming more sophisticated as they gain experience and with guidance from their teacher.