Call for more music provision for young deaf children

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A new report on musical opportunities for deaf under-fives has been published by Music4U.

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The Music to Young Ears report calls for research into music provision for deaf pre-school children

Music to Young Ears aims to examine current levels of provision for deaf children across the Music4U region of York and the Humber, to identify examples of regional and national best practice and to stimulate awareness and discussion of the subject.

The report’s key recommendation emphasises understanding of and sensitivity towards the perspective and circumstances of each child.

The research also provides a series of recommendations on how activities, settings and technology can be used to improve musical provision for deaf children. These include the importance of regular group sessions over a sustained period of time, flexibility and adaptability when working with deaf children as their experiences of music will differ, and of triangulated evaluation in which appraisal is undertaken by children, parents and people supporting delivery.

As a result of the research, Music4U aims to develop its website as a signposting tool for musicians and early years practitioners working with deaf children. The programme also hopes to create a tool kit for parents and a guidance pack for staff to help increase and improve musical provision for young deaf children from April 2014.

Music to Young Ears calls for further research on provision in the early years, saying that the age group tends to be overlooked in favour of older children who are easier to evaluate.

The report, funded by Youth Music’s Musical Inclusion programme, is part of a longer research project on this area of music provision, and follows on from a national conference held by Music4U in May as part of Deaf Awareness Week. Ninety delegates from the music, education and health sectors as well as parents and carers attended a variety of talks from guest speakers including Paul Whittaker, artistic director of Music and the Deaf, and Bryony Parkes, arts and leisure officer at the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Delma Tomlin, director of Music4U, said of the project, ‘It is a unique area of music provision and we are proud to be contributing to the research on this important subject. The research has enabled Music4U to connect with leading organisations in the field and we are working to build on our learning and these partnerships to help bring more opportunities to deaf youngsters in our region.’

Music4U offers music-making opportunities to children under 18 living in challenging circumstances in York and the Humber region, with a particular focus on the early years. The programme is funded by Youth Music with partnership funding from local authorities within the project’s region.

Douglas Lonie, research and evaluation manager for Youth Music, added, ‘This report is an extremely valuable contribution to the evidence base demonstrating the importance of music-making for young children. The ability to express oneself musically is an important element of all children’s development and can help with stronger communication, language and motor skills throughout childhood.

‘Children who are deaf deserve the same opportunities to develop in and through music as hearing children and we have an obligation to develop our understanding and practice in this area. This research provides a fantastic opportunity to do just that.’

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