The right tone in a flexible resource

2nd February 1996 at 00:00
Music for All: developing music in the curriculum with pupils with special educational needs. By Peter Wills and Melanie Peter. David Fulton Pounds 12.99. Music Lessons for Children with Special Needs. By T M Perry. Jessica Kingsley Pounds 16.95.

One of the major disadvantages of the national curriculum Order for music is that it tells you where you are supposed to travel but gives little indication of how to get there.

Given the comprehensive nature of any music class, even in the most highly selective schools, it is difficult to determine whether a child of a particular age is developing appropriately. This becomes even more of a problem when dealing with children with learning difficulties. As the authors of Music for All say, such pupils "may pass through the same developmental stages as their mainstream peers, although their chronological ages may differ."

To help teachers plan for individual needs in a group, Peter Wills and Melanie Peter have identified four stages of development: "reactive" and "active", which they identify with lower and upper key stage 1 respectively, and "interactive" and "proactive" which relate to lower key stage 2 and upper key stage 23. Within this framework, they have devised a series of progressive activities relating to the elements of music, composition, listening and appraising.

There are examples of classroom music lessons, statements of long-term aims and short-term objectives and guidelines for charting individual progress. There are also sections on the aims of music education, teaching and learning resources, planning for differentiation and ensuring access for pupils with physical and sensory disabilities.

Although the authors sometimes resort too readily to jargon and neglect the varying levels of confidence and ability among teachers, the result is an interesting and useful book which should help all teachers.

Music Lessons for Children with Special Needs is a case study of the approach of one man to a particular set of circumstances. It outlines 20 lessons with a group of "children with complex learning difficulties" in a special needs unit.

It breaks down the recommendations of the national curriculum into a practical structure for working with such pupils and offers advice on managing and modifying lessons to meet their individual needs.

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