Level 2, Interactive: interacts with others using sound
People use sound to engage with others, either by making sound in response to sound(s) that are made or by making sounds in the expectation that these will stimulate a response. The sounds may be vocal or made through external means (banging, tapping, scraping, etc). Conscious imitation is not present. Initially, interactions are likely to occur with particular individuals or in particular environments, though gradually they may generalise to other contexts. The interactions may involve other sensory stimulation or activity too – for example, using vision or touch.
Through sound (and, potentially, through other sensory input), people are developing notions of ‘self’ and ‘other’, and a sense of the agency that can exist between them.
Resources designed for particular groups are available as follows:
I.2.A sounds made by another person stimulate a response in sound
Individuals make sounds in response to those made by another or others. The sounds may be vocal or made through banging, tapping, scraping, etc. There is no suggestion of deliberate imitation at this stage.
Offer plenty of opportunities for interaction to occur – initially in a quiet environment, with minimal distractions (though always keeping in mind a person’s preferences). Try a range of different sounds; vocal ones may be particularly effective to start with. Keep in mind any particular sensitivities to certain sounds that the person you are working with may display, or likes and dislikes that they may have. Be prepared to wait 10 or 15 seconds or even longer for a response. Be empathetic to any reactions a person may seem to make, or apparent efforts in that direction – always at the ready to interpret what may occur as attempts at communication. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. Download DOC 44: 24 Music for the Brain I-2-A.pdf
Usman has profound learning difficulties. Here, he is working with his music therapist.
The therapist sings a ‘hello’ song, accompanying herself on the guitar, encouraging Usman to respond. After listening for around six seconds, Usman produces the first of several bursts of vocalisation.
Usman is aware of the therapist’s sounds and makes sounds in response.
Other videos of Usman
To see Usman expressing feelings through vocal sounds, go to P.2.B. To see Usman indicating a preference for one sound over another, go to R.2.B (a) (1st video).
Shafiq has profound learning difficulties. Here he is working one-to-one with his teacher in class.
Shafiq’s teacher rubs a microphone on Shafiq’s tray to produce a sound similar to the scratching noise that Shafiq is known to make P.2.A (a) (1st video). Shafiq responds to the teacher’s sounds by scratching on his tray, maintaining eye contact and smiling.
The sounds of the microphone rubbing on the tray stimulate Shafiq to produce his familiar scratching sounds. Thus the teacher skilfully re-frames an habitual action as communication, and Shafiq’s eye contact and smile suggest that the exchange of sounds amounts to meaningful interaction. Although his sounds and his teacher’s are similar, it would not be safe to regard them as imitative on Shafiq’s part, since the similarity exists on account of the teacher’s decision to use a sound that is like one that Shafiq is already known to make. By adopting this strategy, however, the teacher is presenting Shafiq with the experience of imitation, that may in time evolve into awareness.
Other videos of Shafiq
The teacher subsequently developed this activity by copying Shafiq’s vocal sounds I.2.B. To see Shafiq intentionally making sounds on his own, go to P.2.A (a) (1st video).
Aisha has profound learning difficulties. She is known to enjoy the experience of music and musical sounds. As far as her teacher is aware, this is the first time that Aisha has had the opportunity to play the keyboard.
The teacher briefly plays clusters of low notes on the keyboard. Aisha responds by playing different clusters in return, making eye contact with the teacher and smiling.
Aisha regards the exchange of sounds as interaction – showing an awareness of self and other – and she enjoys the contact that is made.
I.2.B makes sounds to stimulate a response in sound by another person
Individuals make sounds in the expectation that they will stimulate sound production by another person. This expectation may be shown by a pause following the sound they make, and a positive reaction to the response they get – and by repetition of this cycle.
Initially, you may wish to work on the assumption that a person is seeking a response to the sounds they make, even if this is not clear, since it is through many repetitions of the process that the notion of ‘cause and effect’ may become apparent to the person concerned. Start by doing something similar to what they do, in the hope that, in time, they will come to recognise that they can have an impact on you. This will become clearer at Sounds of Intent Level 3, when the power of imitation is recognised. Other factors to consider include the immediacy and consistency with which you make a response, physical proximity, eye contact (if possible) and emotional engagement. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. Download DOC 45: 25 Music for the Brain I-2-B.pdf
Shafiq has profound learning difficulties. Here he is working one-to-one with his teacher in class, using a microphone attached to an amplifier.
Shafiq makes a brief vocalisation into the microphone, which his teacher copies. This interchange is repeated a number of times. Shafiq smiles as he vocalises and gives the teacher eye contact.
Shafiq is aware that he can influence what his teacher does in sound. While the teacher imitates what Shafiq does, there is no evidence that Shafiq is aware of this. Future sessions, involving imitation and non-imitation, could help Shafiq to develop this awareness.
Other videos of Shafiq
For an earlier exchange in sound, in which the teacher followed Shafiq’s lead, see I.2.A (b) (2nd video). To see Shafiq intentionally making sounds on his own, go to P.2.A.
I.2.C interactions occur increasingly independently of context
Individuals are comfortable and confident to interact through sound in an increasing range of contexts (with different people, in different environments, etc).
Give people the opportunity and encouragement to interact through sound in a range of different contexts: in different spaces (intimate or large, inside or outside), with different people (familiar and less familiar), on different social occasions (at home, at school, at a day centre), during different activities (when relaxing, when travelling, during personal care) and throughout the day. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. Download DOC 46: 26 Music for the Brain I-2-C.pdf
Ollie is in the later stages of a neurodegenerative disease. He is totally blind, non-verbal and has limited movement. Here he is at home, working with a music therapist and a visiting music teacher whom he has not met before, exploring for the first time an app on his iPad that plays harp-like sounds in response to touch and movement across the screen. The virtual harp is tuned to A flat major.
The music teacher plays and sings a song from Tuning In, transposed to A flat, which provides a musical and linguistic framework for Ollie’s participation. He leaves gaps for Ollie to fill with his sounds. Ollie plays the iPad in short bursts by moving his right arm.
Ollie makes a number of contributions with movements that vary slightly, suggesting intentionality in his sound-making. While there is no evidence that he understands the words or musical structure of the song, it helps the adults to interact purposefully and in an aesthetically pleasing way.
I.2.D interaction through sound involves activity that engages the other senses too
Individual’s interaction through sound may involve the other senses too – for example, vision (through eye contact, gesture and the use of objects) or touch (for example, through tapping, stroking and co-active movement).
Human interaction is typically multisensory, so follow your communicative instincts when interacting with children, young people and adults with complex needs and include (where possible) eye contact, touch, movement and the use of shared objects. Having a common pattern of occurrence or change across different sensory modalities (for example, tapping in time to the music) will support a growing awareness of repetition and regularity (Sounds of Intent Level 3). Physical proximity is likely to be important; ensure that the movements you use to make sounds are evident, and exaggerate your facial expressions when vocalising to help the feelings you are expressing to be conveyed. Further ideas for activities are to be found here. Download DOC 47: 27 Music for the Brain I-2-D-.pdf
Aaron has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Here, he is on a summer vacation scheme organised by his school, at which a number of activities are offered, including music. He is interacting with a musician, as they explore a small harp together.
Aaron hears and feels the musician plucks the strings on the guitar, and he tries strumming too.
Aaron is able to engage with another person through sound and touch together.
Other video of Aaron
To see Aaron .vocalising at different levels in response to different pitches, go to I.3.B (a) (1st video). To see him imitating a regular beat, see I.3.D (b) (2nd video).
The complete Sounds of Intent assessment matrix is to be found here More: Assessment DOC 60 and downloadable assessment sheets here. [LINKS TO DOCS 61 & 62]
Responds to one type of sound by making a sound or makes one type of sound expecting a sound to be made in response
Jerome is in his late twenties. He has profound and multiple learning difficulties. He will sometimes respond when people sing to him by making loud vocalisations himself, which always have a similar contour – a high ‘ah’ that descends slowly in pitch.
Sakura is six years old. She has profound and multiple learning difficulties. She loves interacting with her mother in particular. She makes a quiet giggling sound and waits for her mother to respond vocally.
Responds to one type of sound by making a sound and makes one type of sound expecting a sound to be made in response
Eric is 11. He has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Often, when someone sits next to him, he bangs on the tray of his wheelchair in the expectation that someone will tap it in response. And when people sing to him, he will vocalise back, with increasing animation.
Alex has just had her fiftieth birthday. She has profound and multiple learning difficulties. She has a particular shaker she is fond of, which she will shake whenever lively music is played. When it is quiet, she sometimes scratches the tray on her wheelchair to attract people’s attention and in the hope they will engage with her by scratching or tapping the tray in return.
Responds to two or more types of sound by making sounds and makes two or more types of sound expecting sounds to be made in response
Philip is 15. He has severe learning difficulties and is non-verbal. He has a collection of soundmakers that his teacher has assembled for him, and in intensive interaction sessions, he enjoys picking them out of crate in which they are kept and playing them, one by one, expecting his teaching assistant to pick another one and play that in response. He will also play the game the other way round, whereby the teaching assistant starts by selecting a soundmaker and waits for Philip to choose another one and play in response.
Alice is four. She has severe learning difficulties. She enjoys playing interactive games with her big brother, in which they take it in turns to make different sounds using their voices. Sometimes Alice starts, and sometimes her brother takes the lead. Alice doesn’t seem to mind whether her brother copies her or does something different, and she doesn’t seem to make the same sounds as her brother with any consistency.