Music is a universal language which crosses all language barriers. It can be used to the benefit of even those with hearing impairments, whether it is assisting with completing simple tasks, expressing emotions, or exploring the vibrations of a drum or a guitar string. Music is an absolute essential for all human beings and should be easily accessible for people of all walks of life. In the following section recommendations are given as to how any person working with a child with a hearing-impairment can engage with them in a musical way:
- Introduce the child to music and music activities from a very early age, before any implantations or application of hearing aids. After the implantation or application of a hearing aid, make sure to continue with the music activities. This has the potential to improve the child’s speech perception. Activities can range from singing, dancing, attentive listening, or instrumental playing.
- Make sure to include movement and dance where rhythm is accentuated during music activities. This provides a multisensory experience which can lead to improvement of the perception of speech.
- Use singing as the main musical activity, especially from an early age. It is important for the child to see your lips and tongue movements, especially with vows. By singing with this specific intention, the child’s brain can connect the auditory information to lip and tongue movement, thus providing a multisensory experience.
- Repetition. Repetition. It is important to sing songs over and over as it is very helpful for auditory memory. A handy tool is to start and end the lesson/playtime with the same hello\goodbye song. This also provides a sense of structure for the child.
- Make sure to provide the child with lots of opportunities to experiment with sounds. This can be achieved by taking turns singing, singing a section of a sentence or musical phrase and asking the child to finish the sentence or phrase or play a copy-cat game where the child must listen to your singing and copy it. This assists with extending their auditory working memory.
- Support musical hobbies and interests of teenagers with hearing impairments. Hearing impairments should not keep a person from pursuing a musical hobby, career or interest in music.
Music has many uses and is a wonderful source for personal expression and release of emotions, thus it must be accessible to people from all walks of life. It is the responsibility of parents, caretakers, teachers and therapists to provide and encourage a creative and safe platform for children to explore and experience music in a fun and expressive way.
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