The CD “Music Therapy Songs for Special Kids” is currently on sale at the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. All profits from the sale of the CDs bought at Raukatauri will go towards funding their music therapy services.
Have you tried using mainstream children’s music with kids with special needs? The music is usually too fast paced for the child to access and enjoy. Slowing down recordings is an option to make the music more accessible.
Here’s how you can do it for free!
Music recordings can be slowed down by using a program called “Audacity.” This free program can be downloaded from http://audacityteam.org/
Following are the instructions on how to slow down a song’s tempo.
The first step is to rip the song from the CD onto your computer using software such as ITunes, alternately if you have an mp3 you can go straight ahead with step 2.
Open up the Audacity program.
Click on “File-Import-Audio” and select the song file.
Once the file is open, select “Effect-Change Tempo.”
In the “percentage change” box, type a number with a negative sign before it since we want to slow down the music. I would recommend starting with -15.
Click the “Ok” button.
Press the green play button on the top menu bar to hear the song at its reduced tempo.
If you wish to change the tempo repeat steps 5, 6 and 7.
Once you have the song at an appropriate tempo, to transfer this file out of Audacity, click, “File-Export”
In the dialog box that opens select the location for the file to be saved to, add a file name and in the “Save As” type box, select the “mp3 Files” option.
The file can now be opened on programs such as iTunes
The above instructions and link were correct at the time of writing this blog , however this may change as new versions of Audacity are released. However, the general principles would still be correct.
Over the years I have tried a range of instruments with the children with special needs. Today I want to share the “guitar-type” instruments that work best
Uke my Day
The humble Ukulele is the most appropriate “guitar-type” instrument for a child with special needs. Its small size makes it easier to bring it closer to the child. It also works well when the child is in a wheelchair since normal sized guitars tend to be blocked by the wheelchair handles. I usually tend to hold the ukulele with the strings facing the child and then assist them to strum the strings. To prevent the child grasping the strings, place his/her hand fingers on the top of the ukulele and gradually pull away the ukulele so that his/her fingers automatically strum the strings as its pulled away.
With young adults, the guitar is often an appealing option due to its coolness factor. However the ability to strum and fret the guitar simultaneously can often hamper progress. An option is to use open tunings. An open tuning is refers to tuning the strings of the guitar to a guitar chord. Strumming a guitar tuned to a open tuning would result in a pleasant sounding major chord, rather than the discordant sound of the standard tuning of a guitar. The most common open tuning is an “E Major chord” open tuning. To obtain this tuning, tune the guitar to the following pitches: Thickest to thinnest string: E, G#, E, G#, B, E. Google “Open-tuning” to learn more about this type of tuning.
Over the years I have tried a range of instruments with the children with special needs. Today I want to share the “small percussion” instruments that I have found have worked best.
Yes, I know plastic hasn’t had the greatest rep in society… but for our needs, it works great. Why? Because it is light and easy to clean! An important concern when sourcing instruments for kids with special needs is that often their grasping skills could be weak and if we want them to independently hold onto the instruments, we have to assist the best we can. Plastic instruments are usually lighter than their wooden counterparts and so help in this area. Also, instruments often get “mouthed” as the child explores the new toy using their taste senses. Therefore cleaning instruments is a important task. Again, plastic is easy to clean.
Bells which are light and have a small grip as the best to use. Being light they require minimal hand strength to be supported independently by the child. Also having a small grip allow their hand to grasp the bells easier. Photo 1: Ideal: Light easy to grasp. Photo 2: Not ideal: The long length means the weight of the bells is more likely to cause instrument to tip out of a lightly held grasp. Photo 3: Not Ideal: The grip is made of wood and can result in the bells being too heavy to grasp effectively.
With shakers, being able to grip them and have a balanced weight is important. Photo 1: Appropriate small plastic egg shakers with easy to grasp handles Photo 2: Not ideal as egg shakers are too wide to be easily grasped Photo 3: Not Ideal as wooden shakers can be heavier and therefore require more strength to grasp
With castanets, the focus is on ease of playability. Photo 1: Ideal: Plastic castanet Photo 2: Ideal: Great for use with children with complex needs as easy to sound Photo 3: Possibly allright: Wooden castanets Photo 4: Avoid!: Its sound cant be controlled, they just flap around, more like noise than music
Songs to Accompany Your Instruments
My music album “Music Therapy Songs for Special Kids” has instrument playing songs. Try the Ring Those Bells along with your bells and Castanet o Castanet along with your castanets. Happy Playing!
This blog post has been written to share my personal experience and does not constitute me supporting any particular brands of musical instruments. I have not received any payment and/or any promotion for the comments I have written on this blog.