Pulse, Rhythm and Tempo with DHI young people

YY&M’s director, Gail Dudson, is currently completing an MA at the University of Sheffield. Gail’s dissertation is based on our Great Singing, Great Signing project and recently, Gail completed her research in the final weeks of her Psychology of Music course.

Gail’s findings from her research alongside the GS, GS project could have a massive impact on the way that singing and signing is approached by professionals across the UK in the future and it may also highlight different and more effective ways to engage Deaf and Hearing Impaired (DHI) young people in educational settings (not just in singing or musical activity). To boot, it is a fascinating read…

Here is a small snippet of what she has discovered:

As part of our Great Singing, Great Signing project we’ve been working with DHI young people to teach basic music skills. One of the Deaf professional musicians we’ve worked with explained that, once she had grasped pulse and rhythm, she was confident about mastering everything else – it was the key to her musical understanding and the bedrock of her skills. Our music leaders found lots of ways to present ideas of pulse and rhythm visually and physically.

Whoosh – normally a warm up circle game; passing  ‘Whoosh’ across the circle with a responding ‘Whoosh’ from the receiver and by the people on either side of them with ‘Chop’. Normally a game of speech, we made it a game of pulse and triple metre; ‘Whoosh, Whoosh, Chop!’ The challenge was maintenance of a constant speed (no advantage to getting in quickly), and for tempo changes between rounds.
The learning pattern for pulse and rhythm was see, do, then create.  Participants were very quick to learn to recognise a song from note values on a board (without pitch being indicated) and were quickly ahead of where their hearing peers would be expected to be.  Next, they used cards to make their own four-bar patterns and lead the group in sight-reading the pattern (see below). Once the pattern was completed with the cards, they were turned over and the exercise was repeated from memory with a good degree of accuracy by most of the children; those who were less confident knew which of their peers they could rely on to watch and copy, acknowledging the skills of their peers.
The children built themselves into the rhythm pattern, with one participant directing and shaping them into shape, then clapping the pattern solo. One of the music leaders also said that the children had developed the ability to write down a simple rhythm if they saw it being clapped with high levels of accuracy and consistency.
This led to songwriting starting with a rhythmic base, and dancing, using their strong grasp of pulse and rhythm as a basis for new activity.



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