MUSICAL STORIES AND ACCOMMODATING DIVERSITY IN THE SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS CLASSROOM
Musical stories are an invaluable tool in the special educational needs (SEN) classroom. Incorporating music into storytelling can help to improve pupils’ auditory, musical, oral, attention, concentration and memory skills. We carried out an innovative programme in the university classroom to explore how SEN teachers can turn musical stories into an educational tool.
We adopted the classic methods for musicalizing stories: using music to evoke emotions and sensations, to represent different characters, and for sound effects. In small work groups, the students prepared presentations to show the rest of the class, with time for comments and feedback at the end.
The musical stories prepared by the students showed the importance of rebuses as background elements of the reading action that could help SEN pupils to follow the plot. As well as understanding the cognitive benefits of musical stories, already demonstrated in a number of studies, the students in our class were able to grasp the value of combining literature and music as a way of enhancing pupils’ enthusiasm for both.
Our experiment showed us that any type of music can be suitable when adapted to pupil’s needs; that an eclectic selection of music can stimulate attention and concentration during storytelling; that simple musical instruments should be selected according to age; and that the criteria for choosing instruments should focus on solving specific problems (e.g. producing a sound effect) rather than on aesthetic pleasure. Students also experienced for themselves the effects of live and recorded music on their appreciation of stories.