Do's and Don'ts
Establish how each child prefers to communicate (speech, sign language or both), either before the start of the sessions or during the warm-up activity.
Make sure you have the children’s attention before you start speaking.
Speak clearly, using simple language, normal lip movements and facial expressions.
Keep your voice at your regular volume as it’s uncomfortable for hearing aid users if you shout and it can often look aggressive.
Check whether the children understand what you're saying and, if not, try saying it in a different way.
Learn fingerspelling and some basic British Sign Language (BSL). You may find this particularly useful for supporting the teaching of songs.
Use a room that has little-to-no background noise, if possible.
Consider the lighting in the room. Places with good lighting make lipreading easier, which is important for both oral deaf children and those who use sign language.
Teach in small groups.
Use lots of gestures and facial expressions to be as visual as possible.
Use gestures to establish the beat and give instructions before music is played.
Be aware that different hearing aids and cochlear implants vary in how they process different frequencies, and the children are likely to experience sounds differently from you and each other.
Take the student’s lead on which instrument they would like to play. Give options.
Don’t move around while you are talking or demonstrating.
Don’t shout, raise your voice or slow your speech, as this will change your natural lip pattern and make it harder for you to be understood.
Don’t give up! If stuck, try explaining things in a different way, using gestures and visual cues.
Don’t work in a room that has an echo.
Don’t talk whilst playing an instrument.
Don’t forget that background noise can make communication difficult.
Don’t simply repeat yourself or say “Never mind, it doesn’t matter” if a child doesn’t understand or misses something you’ve said. Take the time to rephrase and explain.
Don’t forget that if you are wearing microphones and radio aids, you are being listened to!
Potential difficulties and What you can do to help
Playing in a poor acoustic environment.
✓ Keep background noise to a minimum.
✓ Use rooms with soft furnishings and curtains.
✓ Keep doors and windows closed if possible.
A child is often distracted, has poor attention and difficulty listening and learning.
✓ Face the children when you are talking to them. Give them time to process information before demonstrating.
✓ Never talk whilst music is being played.
✓ Use gestures and demonstrate to help make your explanations clearer.
✓ Be aware that a deaf child may get tired earlier than their hearing peers, as they are using extra focus to follow what is going on.
A child has difficulty following conversation between other children or adults.
✓ Be clear from the start that one person should talk at a time and that no one should play music while discussions are taking place.
✓ Seat everyone in a U shape for ease of communication.
Noises may be too loud and uncomfortable with a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
✓ Check with the child where they are most comfortably positioned within the group.
✓ See if they can arrange to see their audiologist; simple tweaks may be needed to assist them to hear music comfortably.
✓ When introducing instruments, remember that it may take time for some children to adjust to the new sound.
A child is struggling to grasp the rhythm or melody.
✓ Ensure that the child has the chance to learn and practice in advance of the rest of the group – differentiation.
✓ Do not single out a deaf child in front of other group members when they’re struggling.
✓ Go back to basics: ask them to repeat the rhythm by copying you clapping to the beat.