wind instrument for physically challenged student?
November 1, 2012 at 11:20 am #14694
In my school, the band policy is that every 4th grader learns either a brass or woodwind instrument. They start on flute, clarinet, sax, trumpet, euphonium, or trombone.
One of my 4th graders this year chose flute, and he is having a great deal of difficulty with it. He had a lot of learning issues, and on top of that physical challenges including a pronounced speech impediment. I talked to his mom and she said he has weak cheek and tongue muscles.
In playing flute, he can only huff and puff on it rather than produce a steady stream of air. He can’t remember the embouchure, nor can he remember where to put his fingers on the keys. He seems to have trouble with fine motor skills as well.
I am going to sit and talk with him about switching to another instrument. My first thought is low brass, since that eliminates much of the fingering problem. But he still will have the issue with forming the correct embouchure with his weak cheeks and tonguing with his weak tongue.
Anybody have any good ideas for me as to how to handle this situation? Thanks.November 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm #14696
I was just signing on to post almost the same thing. I have a student who is playing trombone who is basically having all of the same problems. Can’t remember positions, cannot change partials, can’t really even form an embouchure so you can hear the difference between notes on the same partial. He is a special ed student, but I’m not sure how to accommodate for him. He’s failing tests, but it seems unfair for him to be failing the class.
Sorry snedekerj282 that I’m not offering advice, but I’m in need of the same answers you are!November 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm #14759
Its hard to know without meeting the student and seeing just how weak their muscles are. But I would say switch up the instrument and see what happens.
I had a student that struggled on the horn all last year and came in this fall with a trumpet. He couldn’t play over a second line G. I switched him to the baritone and now he is doing amazing! You never know until’ you try.November 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm #14864
You might consider making an exception for that student and allowing him to play the snare drum. I have had pretty good success with special ed students and drumming because they only have to think about beat and rhythm. If I have a student who is very slow at reading rhythms, I have him/her play extremely simple rhythms that are barely more than keeping the beat and then introduce various percussion instruments using the same couple of rhythms, such as the bass drum, the wood block or the triangle. I think the flute is probably one of the most difficult instruments to start!November 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm #14867
You may get some ideas from some NAfME articles:
Multicultural Music and Students with Disabilities discusses various kinds of drums — http://musiced.nafme.org/interest-areas/general-music-education/multicultural-music-and-students-with-disabilities/
Adaptive Instruments for Students With Physical Disabilities in the January 2012 issue of General Music Today — http://musiced.nafme.org/resources/periodicals
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