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Music is an important part of my life despite being deaf and blind. I was born with some hearing and learned to talk and sing before losing the ability to understand speech by age 8. I became profoundly deaf a few years later. Through it all, music sustained me. I practiced singing, playing piano and guitar over the years. I learned everything I could about music and musicians of every genre. When I no longer could hear it, I felt it. Music is still such a joy as I feel the vibrations of life. Next to experiencing music, I love sharing this love with my students. I encourage them to listen to music and to learn all about its properties, and those who have influenced this audible river of life and culture.
Though I play and sing, I know that I am no great talent which has never been dependent upon my hearing loss. In my teaching of music, I try to share my love of music and steer parents to actual teachers for instrumental, voice, and theory training. I concentrate on the exploration of sound through listening and the exploration of people who have influenced the development of music since the beginning of recorded time. Recently, I was sent a product to review that helps me a good deal. It is a guide to composers, A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers from Bright Ideas Press to be exact.
The authors have done the task of research on composers of classical music and share details about the various periods of history with the influences on classical music of each period. I think they made some excellent choices of which of the many composers to use in this guide along and agree with their reasoning to not use any number of other talented composers. Each period’s lesson is followed by a student reading guide as well as each composer covered in that period with a reading guide. An appendix is provided with a good glossary of terms, answer keys, and resource list for further investigation. You will also so find additional pages filled with various activities to help your students remember this good information. There are coloring pages, flash cards for each composer, a timeline, a geography activity for finding where in the world the composers lived, and resources to make a folder book. A folder book is similar to a lap book that shows all that a student has learned about a subject. Folder books are simpler and quicker, but they seem to be just as interesting.
The authors suggest a weekly schedule of listening to music at least three times a week, and how to schedule the activities and how to experience the music. You are free to choose your own method, but the guideline provided is very helpful to busy teachers.
For our special needs students, it is easy to adapt these lessons and activities to the individual needs. The clear line drawings can easily be tactiled to allow a blind student to enjoy the activity. Autistics often like music, so let them experience it and give them the information on the composers as their level allows. Deaf and DeafBlind can benefit from the feel as well as the information, so make sure you have good speakers to allow them to touch or have some played on an instrument allowing them to feel the instrument as it is played. Share with them the picture of Beethoven playing his piano on the floor without legs in order to better feel the vibrations.
Music and this guide will provide good experiences for your students no matter how far they take their learning. A Young Scholars Guide to Composers http://www.brightideaspress.com is a great tool no matter how you choose to use it in your studies. It is worth its price of $29.95 just in the research they have provided. Take your children for a ride on the river of music.

Though I was provided a product to review for this blog, I have not been compensated in any other way, and the opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

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Piano instruction can be very beneficial to any child. It can also be fun and rewarding for all. One of the best times to begin instruction is the Pre-school years. Students are naturally curious and love to move their bodies to music. Capture those moments to begin teaching skills that are fun, but transferrable to many other things in life. One of the best of the few programs available at this age is Kinderbach. I received a free three month subscription both last year and this year to review this product. You can find my post from January 6, 2009 here at https://wynfield.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/piano-instruction-for-preschoolers/  to get a full review of what I thought then. As I was requested to take another look at the program, I decided to do two things: first, check with my parents who had chosen to use the product after reading my blog last year to get their first hand experiences, and secondly, try to program with another DeafBlind student who loves the feel of music. You may be wondering why I would want to bother working with music with a child who can’t see and hear. Well, this child can see a little, and with special systems can hear a little, but regardless of the degree of vision and hearing loss, this child is able to feel music. With fun activities, I wanted to see if he could get any benefit with the program.

 First, I checked with the several families that I know who are using Kinderbach with their families. The students range from two to eight with various ability levels. One has an older child of nine who is autistic. The mother found that her daughter enjoyed joining in with the preschooler in the family. The mother was delighted because it was the only time the autistic child would interact with other members of the family except mother and occasionally, father. Another parent noted that an older child of twelve who took formal piano lessons outside of the home who was often nearby when she worked with the six year old in the family with Kinderbach would be tapping his foot or pencil in time with the beat bugs. The mother asked if he like the Kinderbach DVD to which he responded, “Nah, that’s baby stuff.” However, the piano teacher asked a few weeks later about the beat bugs and what did it mean because the son’s understanding of notes and rhythm seemed to have improved and was showing in his performances of music he had previously struggled with. The mother chuckled, and said, “Why, Kinderbach!” All of the parents seemed to enjoy the program. A few were pleasantly surprised that their young children were actually playing music on their own. One parent stated that it was the easiest part of her day. “We began with doing music just one day a week, but it is now done every day. We have so much fun.”

With all the glowing reports from the other parents, you wonder just what would happen with a DeafBlind child. You can’t help, but be realistically pessimistic. There are obvious problems with the program in regards to a deaf or deafblind child. The child has to be able to access the program in some way to get any benefit, of course. In this case, we plug the child’s FM system (a device that sends the sound source directly to the child’s hearing aids through radio transmission) which allows him to get some amount of speech, music, and/or noise from the monitor. The parent also sits the child very close to the monitor allowing the child to see better with his telescope glasses. The parent also has to sign in the child’s hands the dialogue for the program and the songs. I provided a stuffed donkey to represent Dodi who is the primary character for representing the keyboard in the program. We make the Dodi’s house cutout for him too and sign “Dodi’s House” to the child. It is important for us to introduce the props and basic idea of “we are going to find out where Dodi, the donkey, lives today.” As we present the program, we allow the child to indicate if and when we continue. Of course, it is the actual music that gets this child interested. He bounces whenever music is played, and often touches the speakers to see if he can feel even more of the vibrations. In time with lots of patient signing, we were able to get the child to understand that he could play the white key outside of Dodi’s home and make music that sounded like the DVD. We played the DVD initial lessons just a few times over a few days. After a weekend, the child continued his daily routine without coming to see me. We weren’t sure if there had been any impact until the child the next week began signing “Dodi Music” over and over. The parent had to come borrow my DVD and small keyboard. He asks for “Dodi Music” every day now. The two haven’t gotten very far in the lessons, but the child is fascinated with making his own music. Fortunately, we can plug the keyboard into his FM system, too, but he still likes to touch the keyboard to feel even more vibrations from the keyboard itself. Kinderbach is not designed for the deaf or deafblind, nor should they be expected to be. It was just nice to have this type of program available that we could work with, since neither I nor the parent are necessarily music inclined. Using Kinderbach, we have been able to expose this child to something not necessarily within his realm of possibilities. For a deafblind child, the mere exposure is the ability to mark a milestone for understanding of the world around him.

 The vendor may be surprised with this review using such a unique tactic, but I feel it shows that Kinderbach is a good quality program for delivering music foundations in a delightful way to the young child at a time when learning those skills can also be beneficial in other aspects of the child’s developmental growth. There are now six levels to the program at a maximum cost of $40.95 per DVD level with combination packages of DVD and CD of activity pages increasing savings, and an online version for as low as $7.99 per month with annual prepaid subscription of $95.88 or $19.99 per month. You can try the online version for $5.95 for one day to see if it is a good fit for your family. Check out http://www.kinderbach.com to bring a little music into your family’s life.

 The vendor did provide a free product subscription for a specified time in return for a review, but the opinion expressed in this view is entirely my own.

Music is the melody of life some say. For me, it is that and more. I was born with normal hearing or possibly a mild hearing loss, but it was progressive. I was wearing aids by school age and unable to understand speech by my teen years. Until I became totally deaf a few years later, music became increasingly the only thing that I could easily make sense of and enjoy sound-wise. I was singing before I talked I was told. I mostly wanted to sing what I called at two as “Jesus music”. I loved the way music made me feel even if I couldn’t understand the words or even hear the all of the intricate chords. I wanted to play an instrument to create that music myself. I tried piano and did ok, but my hands were small while I still had enough hearing to learn easily. Guitar was another attempt, but hearing was deteriorating and difficult to pick up on my own. Teachers were unsure of how to teach me. As a young mother, totally deaf, I found Jean Welles’ Worship Guitar Class, Vol. 1. Though I am sure she never thought of her program as a way to teach a deaf girl to play,  it worked. I could play and feel the music to express my love for my Savior.

Her program now available on DVD is as much visual as it is auditory. Jean uses close-up camera angles and large diagrams to show guitar strings, tabs, finger placement, and picking and strumming patterns. Verbally, she gives full explanation of these aspects in clear and precise manner. I used her diagrams and close-ups of finger placement to learn chords. Then I watched carefully and repeated her actions in the close-ups of the different strumming patterns. Jean then follows up the chord instructions with a song that uses the chords just taught. Jean plays the song through using the techniques she has just gone over with a camera angle that lets you see easily as she puts it all together for you. Each song builds on the chords and strumming techniques used before and more chords are added throughout the first volume giving you a good background of guitar chords and strumming patterns when completed. The next section includes a practice section that gives you exercises for improving technique and exercises for improving chord changes and picking skills. The last part Jean plays the songs taught on the DVD allowing you to play along. Jean Welles’ method of instruction is clear, and her easy-going spirit and love for the Lord shine through it all motivating you to learn this method of worship.

I can’t promise anyone that this is the best program for them, but I know that the method allowed me to learn when I could hear almost no sound. Now that I am blind and deaf, vibrations are felt more intensely. Having learned how to make my own music, I can still enjoy worshipping my Savior through music which gives me such joy. With a tactual interpreter helping me to know the flow of the music and my sense of feeling vibrations, I often sing praises along with my hearing/sighted friends. I continue to play guitar in my worship time and with my family. My only true audience though is my Lord, Jesus Christ. Will every deaf person want to learn music? No, but music instruction for children has been shown to raise intelligence scores and musical experience in general gives acquisition to many skills and concepts that are applicable to the world of math and real life concepts. Music instruction for anyone can provide benefits even if the continued love of playing is never developed. I introduce my deafblind students to music as a way to explore the world around them. To me, it is worth the effort.

Jean Welles’ Guitar Worship Class DVDs are available at http://www.worshipguitarclass.com/. Each volume is available for $29.95 for each volume or $99.80 for the four volumes. Each set comes with a lesson book with much of the music information and the songs for additional practice.

I received Jean Welles’ Worship Guitar Class Volume 1 DVD and lesson book to test for this review. The opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

Tortoises and hares and pretzel vendors and contrabassoons and cellos are all playing together in one place? Just what could this mean? It is a delightful story adaptation brought to life with the sounds of an orchestra. This story brought back wonderful memories of the old cartoons like Bugs Bunny with the orchestra sound effects. The developers of Stories in Music™, Bonnie Ward Simon and Stephen Simon, take that idea to its fullest benefits with dramatized narration and full orchestral sound affects to enhance the story and encourage better listening skills and appreciation of music.

Each audio cd begins with the story narrated with the orchestral sound effects. The story is followed by narration telling about the story, its history, type of literary story such as a fable, and the purposes of the story type. The cd also includes the original song played separately to allow children to learn the song for singing and performance. The music is included with words once to help teach the song and another instrumental version is at the end of the cd to allow for student performance. It is a great way to get the students involved with the story and experiencing music. Another important feature of the cd is a narration explaining how the composer used music to help tell the story. Music samples of various instruments are played such as a contrabassoon with its low, droning sound and how its sound was used to create a particular sound effect or represent a character such as the tortoise with its slow movements. The story is played again after this narration encouraging the students to listen carefully for the sound effects explained. This is a delightful way to explore how music affects us and can be used in so many ways such as story narration. It also encourages active listening skills to recognize these instruments and how they are played to add to the story.

Each audio cd set has a booklet with full color pictures of orchestra instruments, information about music and music reading, and information related to the story theme. In Tortoise and the Hare, there is information and pictures explaining the difference between turtles and tortoises, and rabbits and hares. There are crossword puzzles and word jumbles and other fun things to do that reinforce the information taught in the booklet and on the cd. There is also words and music to a fun original song written and included as part of the story.

The accessibility for various special needs students here could be limited, but learning disabled, autistic spectrum disorder, and hearing blind students will certainly benefit. The little booklet is short enough to read to a hearing blind or even be brailled. Hard of Hearing, Deaf, and DeafBlind students may also benefit with a little modification and role play. Tell the story in print and ASL using a speaker large enough for the student to feel some of the subtle vibrations of the music. Role play the sound effect use such as running and walking in the Tortoise and the Hare. Simulate other effects such as crowd noise and other story action. Experience with actual orchestra instruments would be excellent allowing the student to place his hand on the instrument or near the sound hole to feel the vibrations. Allow the students to create their own sound effects with available instruments or handmade ones, too. Drums or pots could be used to beat out a running or walking pattern. These activities can reinforce the connection between story elements and music for these students.

The web site, http://www.maestroclassics.com, has additional learning activities that can be used for many students to reinforce the concepts and skills presented with these wonderful stories. Each cd set is $16.98 or 3 for $45.00 with a code. You can purchase many stories, such as Casey at Bat and The Story of Swan Lake, with more in production. Explore music with your child with these delightful stories. The blessings will last a lifetime.

Stories in Music™ authors provided a cd and booklet set to be tested for this review. The opinion expressed in this review is my own.

I never would have dreamed that piano could be more than banging and noisy clanging for a two year old. Kinderbach Music has changed the tune for me. The founder, Karri Gregor, who claims to have a little music background has developed an amazing music instruction program that preschoolers love and really does give them a foundation in music that can be used to go as far as the child wants in the future .
Imagine your preschooler playing music within the first minutes of using this great program based on DVDs, activity sheets, and plain ‘ole fun. Music is easy to learn this way, and it is the perfect foundation for building math, reading, and writing skills later, as well as, additional music instruction. Music has long been known to improve intelligence and thinking skills across the curriculum spectrum. Now it can be done for preschoolers in a way they can understand using characters rather than notes. Kinderbach teaches rhythm, sound discrimination, ear training, and hand position using these characters and catchy songs and activities. It even teaches basic music theory, too, by using patterns such as “same step” and “step by step”. Rhythm and beat are taught with ideas such as walk for a note and beat bugs counting the time. It may sound crazy to adults, but preschoolers love these crazy ideas. They will want to listen to each lesson over and over again.
With over 300 sessions, approximately two years of instruction, Kinderbach is well worth the price ($217.75 for a complete home package of all lessons and materials or online instruction at $85.95) and the effort. Even better is the fact that you don’t have to know music to teach your child with Kinderbach. Put in the DVDs, follow the instructions, and play with your child. That is really all there is to it. All the activity sheets are done in conjunction with watching the DVD, so your child learns right along with the various fun characters on screen.
I highly recommend this wonderful program to bring the love of music to your preschooler. Try the free online lessons at www.kinderbach.com to get hooked on Kinderbach just like we did. At Wynfield, we are now hearing sweet tunes in the preschool department.

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