Whether a student has a formal IEP or 504 or not: there is not just one cookie cutter student. And as teachers we have varied ideas of how lead specific teaching points; just as our students will respond differently to various teaching strategies.
Here are some ideas of reaching students with mixed visual, auditory, logical/analytical, and kinesthetic strengths…
Performers – Referencing Posture/Embouchure
Games – Aiming air at a specific target (great for younger students)
Inside of mouth or torso to help visualize tongue placement, lung expansion, and posture/support.
Encouraging the student to record themselves to be able to assess and compare what they are doing.
Videos of performers for students to visualize an end goal.
Same as video recording themselves; the mirror is great for more nuanced assessment such as the apperture/ambouchure.
- Using the space
Combined with kinesthetic: having pictures or even tangible spots in the room to aim the air (high v. low) is great for both visual and kinesthetic learners.
For early music readers, associating a note with a color can be a great way to reinforce and develop music literacy.
Combined with logical/analytical: colors can be a good tool for comparing similar and different – such as loud and soft.
Similar to colors, using size to contrast and comparing more nuanced musical ideas.
Also for learners that are part of the blind community, having the contrast and enlarged print makes music reading more accessible.
Useful for both younger and older students; the shapes can be used to reinforce dynamics (such as hairpins). The shape and body of notes (ie. quiet entrance, loud sustain and release OR loud attack with a quick decay)/
- Modeling and Imitation
Review and repetition is great for all students; and the I Do then You Do concept is ideal for auditory learners because they will mimic what the hear.
Being able to connect their voice to their playing will allow the student to internalize the music and begin to audiate (or hear before they play).
This can also be paired with modeling or call and response on both the voice and the instrument to help the student bridge the connection between their voice and their instrument playing.
- Recordings – Playlists
Having a reference recordings of professional flute players will help students internalize the music they are learning. The Suzuki method especially is based on this reinforcement of listening to tracks and playing from memory.
Playing for memory can be a difficult thing to do if you already are ingrained in visual intaking music. However, every musician can benefit from taking a bite size piece of music and memorizing it (using the Listen and Response technique as well as having Recordings to listen to). Memorizing music takes away visual input and allows the player to focus on two things (1) the sound and (2) their body. Therefore, auditory and kinesthetic learners will have the most luck with memorizing, but for the rest of us it worthwhile to pursue.
- Recordings – Listen back and assess
You don’t need to stop at just listening to professional recordings; encouraging the student to record themselves and listen back.
- Duets/Chamber music
Chamber music (more so playing with other people) are engaging for auditory learners because they get to rely on their ears to match and respond to other musicians. Including duets in lessons are a fantastic way to engage students and have fun making music.
Both auditory and visual learners can engage in identifying patterns (whether that be by listening or looking at the music); giving the student a specific goal to listen for “the same” or “different” will help reinforce that there is structure in music.
- Comparing (Same v. Similar)
In that same vein, comparing things that start the same and end differently is more nuanced. By using leading questions – where you are guiding students to a specific answer – the student is able to differentiate things that are slightly varied.
Review and repetition; students will have experience with scales and arpeggios. Referencing a single note (the tonic) and asking the student to make a game out of it:
- Finding all the (ie. A) notes in a piece OR
- Omitting one specific note from a piece to hear what that might sound like
- Student-Led Discussion – Observation
Logical and analytic students tend to be adept at finding these patterns in music; therefore, giving them a safe space to led a discussion “what do you notice” or “what do you think” to gauge how they are internalizing the piece.
- Movement for rhythm/time
Having designated time in the lesson for students to use their body is important for kinesthetic learners. Particularly for rhythm and timing based activities such as using scarves or balls to keep time and internalize the pulse.
- Different spaces in room
Combined with logical and analytical, having the student move to a different spot in the room when they hear a different section (ie. same and different) or when they are playing different sections.
- Move around chair (each repetition)
The chair circle – good for repetition – each time a student plays a different repetition correctly they can move to the next face of the chair. Repeat until they have come full circle.
- Clapping – Body Percussion
Making use of the body to respond and create music through clapping the steady beat, syncopations. even combining auditory learning by singing and clapping at the same time.
- Connect body to register
Singers often use hand sings or even high/low hand gestures to indicate pitch – this is great for kinesthetic learners. And either using the head to toes; or physical moving the arms up to the sky and ground helps reinforce music as having shape and contour.
These were just a few ideas to differentiate teaching points,
share your own ideas in the comments below!