Six small children on risers in front of a colorful background with cow masks Split screen of a woman in an apron in a kitchen and a little girl reciting lines

I hope you all have a chance to watch our Winter Festival. Music has been part of Child’s Voice for many years. Ellen Singer became our very first Music Teacher while her son Josh was in the program. Ellen’s work set the stage for music at Child’s Voice as both a brain development and fun learning activity.

Child’s Voice students truly are blessed with amazing instructors. Music education is important for all children, yes, but even more so for children with hearing loss.

Many Listening and Spoken Language programs know the benefits of music. See this article by Ellen Singh, a licensed Kindermusik educator who works with the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, MO. (This article was originally posted on both the CID and Kindermusik blogs).

5 Ways Music Impacts Children with Hearing Loss by Ellen Singh

Builds Up Language and Speech 

Musical activities provide a fun way for children with hearing loss to actively participate in practicing the development of their language and speech.

Things like articulation (listening then singing to build vocabulary and improve pronunciation), adjusting tone and volume of voice (like outside versus inside voices), and sequencing (determining what comes next in a song) all work together to ramp up auditory skills.

Promotes Active Listening

It’s important for children with hearing loss to be able to know and discern what sounds they are hearing.

In my Kindermusik classes, we practice active listening in three steps:

  • First, I tell the children what we are going to listen to and often show a visual simultaneously.
  • Next, we listen to a recording of the sound.
  • Last, I prompt the children to copy the sound with their voices.

This intentional activity allows children to increase their “sound vocabulary.”

Increases Literacy and Pre-Reading Skills

In addition to articulation, sequencing, and other elements that boost language skills (all critical to reading), learning musical symbols is a natural way to promote literacy.

Symbols, like letters that produce words, have rules and are arranged in meaningful ways.

That exposure can be extremely beneficial for early readers who may have trouble with sounds, but can make letter-to-word connections in other ways.

Develops Inhibitory Control

All children need to learn to internally stop their bodies, but it’s critical for those with hearing loss.

For example, potentially missing or experiencing delayed auditory cues, such as “STOP!” in a parking lot when a car is coming is a safety issue.

In Kindermusik, we use many stop-and-go activities to practice these behaviors—stopping and starting to musical cues makes inhibitory control fun!

Strengthens the Vestibular System

Children with hearing loss often struggle with balance issues. Therefore, it’s especially important to strengthen their vestibular system—a sensory system that provides the brain information about balance, spatial orientation, and motion.

In Kindermusik, we often pair music with cross-lateral movement (or crossing the midline) to boost this part of the body. Essentially, we’re pairing movement of one side of the body with the other, which forces the two brain hemispheres to work together and ramps up the vestibular system.

Crossing the midline looks different by age and may include crossing fingertips to toes (for babies), hands to lap (for toddlers or older children), or even rocking in a homemade hammock (a large towel with adults on each end swaying the child).

 

We thank Ellen Singh for this information.

While we do not use the Kindermusik program, Child’s Voice has collaborated with Merit School of Music and with Foundation for Hearing and Speech Resources (FHSR) to provide excellent music instruction for all our children. This year we added our Toddler class to the music curriculum.

Music is a year-round part of our curriculum. Here are some notes from evaluations of our kiddos’ musical growth:

“In the PI class we saw significant growth in the area of pitch. Pitch is a benchmark measurement for deaf and hard of hearing children as it is one of the most difficult for them to attain. The assistive hearing device technology has not evolved to a point where pitch is easily accessible so a music program that has pitch as a component works directly to help the child with higher and lower sound/ speech production.”

“PII students went from an overwhelming majority, 58%, in the Good pitch category to an even split between Good and Very Good, both at 40%, by the May assessment. Most remarkable was the 20% gain of the students evaluated at the Excellent level for pitch when there were none in this category in February. The growth in the Excellent pitch category is a reflection of strong program support and maturation.”

“Musical solos are a proxy measurement for self confidence. During the opening of each music lesson the students sing the attendance song which provides an opportunity for a solo. A deaf and hard of hearing child needs to trust in their speaking voice and have the self confidence to advocate for themselves. The PII class had incredible gains in their confidence for music solos. By the May assessment, all students had moved up to a higher level essentially eliminating the Poor, Fair and Good percentages to see a concentration in the Very Good and Excellent measurement levels. By the end of the year a full 67% of the cohort were evaluated at the Excellent level.”

The photos above show our kids singing the story of the Gingerbread Pal, which featured many chances for solo and group performance (click on them to make them bigger). Notice the special guest who played the baker!

These measurements reflect some amazing work on the part of our music teacher. Our students work hard as well.

If you know how important music is to kids with hearing loss, you can make a donation to support this crucial component of our curriculum. Thank you!

Do-Re-Mi!

Fondly,

Dr. Michele