Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

The Benefits of Vocal Music Experiences for a Sightless Infant and His/Her Caregivers

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

The Benefits of Vocal Music Experiences for a Sightless Infant and His/Her Caregivers

Article excerpt

The topic explored in this column is the need for and benefits of vocal music experiences for a sightless infant in the home, regardless of the parental makeup of the household, and when the child is in a public/private child care centre. The topic is not a new one, but it is still pertinent in the musical development of a sightless youngster's life. The two locations in which the child is placed are not unique in our society, but, the relevancy of the methods that are used to experience vocal music are more important when a sightless infant is exposed to them, and involved in the setting in which they occur. The reasons for this are that the implementations of the strategies have significant impacts for the infant without vision that lead to important musical results for the child during the present time, and in the future. Therefore, the subject continues to be important for a youngster who lacks vision, and the relevant results are the keys to this exploration of the topic.

There are specific aspects to keep in mind as the sightless youngster is experiencing vocal music: the age of the infant, the timing of the introduction to the two music forms, the methods employed, and the benefits that the participation in these musical activities will have for the blind child, and the sighted care giver(s). The sightless child - ranging from newborn to eighteen months - should have immediate opportunities to encounter vocal music sounds that are projected by the unaccompanied caregiver's voice as well as those that are produced by a singer with recorded accompaniment. However, the main thrust of the discussion concerns the strategies to be used, and the advantages of their implementations.

The techniques that will introduce the child to live and recorded vocal music, in the home, and in the daycare situation will have similarities. There are particular ways to provide the sightless infant with opportunities to listen to live vocal music in a household. These include singing a song, repeating it, singing fragments from it, adding a few more tunes and repeating these so that the child will gain familiarity with the sounds being made and the voice making these sounds. The youngster may also be held as the caregiver is singing with certain movements such as swaying, rocking, and dancing added. If the caregiver has a small repertoire, then humming a variety of melodies will be a good substitute for using actual songs as these will enhance the child's exposure to different types of listening opportunities. The child may also experience recordings of vocal music using a variety of media. These, as well, need to be repeated so that familiarization will occur. While the live singing voice, and the recorded media that are used in the daycare will most likely vary from those used in the home, the methods will remain the same. However, the child is going to become more familiar with the actual voice of the singer, the live melodies, and the tunes sung in the place in which he/she spends the most time. The recordings that are used in this location will have effects on the child as well. For these music-oriented listening encounters also will enable the infant to gain familiarity with the recorded vocal music used in the child-care centre.

The relevance of the topic, therefore, is best viewed, and understood through the resulting benefits of the musical interchanges that occur between the blind child and the caregivers. These are fundamental to the important musical developments for the sightless individual at the present time, and in the future. …

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