Rhythmics with mentally and physically handicapped children – a practical report

Hirler, p. 2000
Rhythmics with mentally and physically disabled children – a practical report
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Out: "To practice & Making music", Verlag Schott, issue 5/2000

"Hand and foot can dance". Rhythmics with mentally and physically disabled children – a practical report

Anyone who has ever had contact with mentally handicapped people knows that, despite their mental and cognitive limitations in our society, their spontaneity and cordiality make them a piece "normality" can return. The saying of my son (10), who had a lot of fun participating in a life aid event, has a symbolic meaning for me despite its simplicity: "People are much more normal there than the ‘normal’!"

"The disabled person is an individualist – a distinctive personality" (All quotes, unless otherwise stated, come from the film about the curative education work of the Swiss rhythm teacher Mimi Scheiblauer, 1891-1968, "Ursula or the unworthy life", Switzerland 1966, by Reni Mertens and Walter Marti. See also obituary for Walter Marti in "Practice and make music", Issue 3/2000).

I have been working with mentally and physically disabled children and adults for over 10 years. The great strength of these people is their enthusiasm and the feeling of togetherness within the rhythm groups. The strong characteristics of the mentally handicapped are interesting. Due to the low cognitive reflectivity and caused by the respective disability, characteristic peculiarities and types emerge more concisely.

The participants in the courses often have a combination of different disabilities. Down syndrome (Mongolism), spastic paralysis, epileptics, mental illnesses (autism), consequential damage from childhood illnesses, vaccine damage and also accidents etc. result in a very wide spectrum of different needs and abilities. Due to the wide range of tasks of rhythmic-musical education, their desire for spontaneous experience, for movement to music and for common activities can be met.

The "Learn" with mentally handicapped

"You can’t teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves" (Galileo Galilei).

This sentence corresponds in particular to the pedagogical teaching principle with mentally handicapped children and adults. But what possibilities are available for rhythmic-musical education in class that enables normal and mentally handicapped children, ". to discover it in yourself"?

The learning behavior of the normally viable child is stimulated and developed by arousing curiosity and amazement to think independently (plan, make decisions, act purposefully, etc.). To do this is a certain level of intelligence and reflectivity of your own Action required.

"The disabled person is a whole person and should be viewed in this way. What do people need? Care, recognition, validity, meaningful employment and love".

However, especially people who do not have sufficient cognitive and mental skills to be able to independently take a place in our society act in rhythmic lessons with a particularly elementary joy in making music, singing and dancing and allow themselves to be self-determined statements in music, language and movement motivate. In rhythmics and music lessons with mentally and physically handicapped people, teachers sometimes observe an astonishing rhythmic, musical and performing talent that is often not expected due to the severity of the disability.

"If you have a child in front of you who does not understand, you have to set it in motion so that it learns to understand connections". – "A child who does not learn to fixate and grip cannot develop".

To abstract sensory impressions and to transform them into other forms of implementation (see e.g. the task below "caterwauling"/ "Mausemusik"), is a highly complex process in the brain that can only be achieved with the interaction of the right and left hemispheres. "Many mentally handicapped students are still predominantly on the sensorimotor and pre-operative development level, less often on the abstract (cognitive) level. , Learning must primarily take place via the various sensor systems, but not only in an receptive (receptive) way, but actively (productively and reproductively). through holistic experience" (Stabe 1996, p. 114).

"From feeling to recognizing – from grasping to understanding – from doing to understanding".

Rhythmic-musical education is a holistic pedagogy because it is "learning"-Media, music and language offer content on a wide range of senses and perceptions. The sensorimotor implementation (hearing – moving, seeing – moving, feeling – moving etc.) enables a much broader anchoring in the different brain areas.

Holistic teaching – methodical-didactic basics of rhythmics with the mentally handicapped

In rhythmic lessons with the mentally handicapped, the focus is less on conveying cognitive content. Rather, it enables children to integrate skills in social behavior, ability to concentrate, stimulation of the senses, motor skills, imagination and creativity developed in class into their personality.

  • In rhythm lessons, each child is picked up from their respective point of view and ability. In this way, the teacher helps every child to make their personal creativity and imagination audible and visible in musical and motor expressions.
  • For mentally handicapped children, stress-free learning and acting with fun and joy is a basic requirement in order not to cause any admission and learning blocks. In the rhythmic lesson, the mentally handicapped are not expected to perform a certain achievement correctly. The playful and creative range of rhythmic tasks helps the children, ". to discover it in yourself".
  • Rhythmic lessons are embedded in a topic over a longer period of time. Thanks to the diverse range of games and support, children can immerse themselves in the respective topic with all their senses, and the topic is thus better stored in the brain through the more complex connections and networked with others.
  • Didactic content, e.g. a song or a rhyme are carried out in different tasks. For example, a song is played as a finger or hand gesture game, as a movement game in gross motor skills, as a dance, as a partner game, with simple instruments (as sound history or only rhythmically) or with materials (e.g. ropes, rods, cloths).
  • Creativity and imagination are promoted through experimentation phases with instruments / material or with the voice.
  • By acting in a group, alone and in partner games, the children learn in a playful way to get better involved and react with a certain social competence. Partner tasks, such as "Lead and follow" are a typical task in rhythm.
  • The following senses are promoted by thematic perception games: the sense of sight, hearing, touch, sense, depth or self-perception (proprioceptive perception), the sense of balance and movement.
  • If children are particularly handicapped in their movements (e.g. children with spastic paralysis in a wheelchair), the offers are tailored to their range of movement. So the child always has the feeling "I play along – I can also contribute something".

These listed contents and methods enable one "discovery learning". The quote from Galileo Galilei applies to the teaching method of rhythmic-musical education in a particularly varied manner.

"Because people develop, you can educate them. Because development is a process of change, you can influence it. Since a person changes throughout his life, his change can always be influenced".

Building a rhythm lesson

The structure and structure of rhythm lessons is not fundamentally different from the lessons with normal children. However, there is a difference in the age structure of the groups. With the 7 to 14 year old mentally handicapped children I teach in subject areas that I have with 4 to 8 year olds "normal" Use children (In a modified form, I teach my groups with mentally and physically handicapped adults also with child-related topics, because they are too "adult" Topics have no emotional and also cognitive access).

Another difference to normal children is the implementation of game forms. Depending on the disability, it is often slower, with less dynamics, and in complex game forms, the game steps are built up in shorter methodical steps.

It is of fundamental methodological importance Repetition. Because only in repetition do the children get security and thus enjoy the execution more. The children immerse themselves thematically in a game complex that is carried out over several hours with a wide variety of games and their variations.

The content of a rhythmic lesson (approx. 45-60 minutes) with children is a story that is presented to the children through songs, picture books or rhymes.

Methodical-didactic structure of a rhythmic lesson

A rhythmic lesson is divided into three teaching phases:

  1. Attunement phase, greeting and attunement game,
  2. Rhythmic games on the subject as well
  3. End of the hour (Hirler 1999, p. 149).

The most varied range of games is to be offered during the rhythmic lesson. "Tasks on the square and in space, in large and small movements, moving phases and resting phases make a rhythm lesson varied" (Hirler 1998, p. 17). "This allows the lesson to ‘breathe’ and has the character of an hour of play and fun instead of an exercise subject to the sole purpose of learning, in which e.g. just sung, only played on instruments or just moving around in space" (Hirler 1999, p. 150).

The language guidance remains in the pictorial symbolism of the topic. The teacher should avoid the following sentences: "Imagine, you all cats now and sneak out of the house. " Children do not have to imagine that they are playing cats now, because they hatch when appropriately addressed to children such as: "The cats sneak out of the house. " immediately into the role of the cat and imitate the creeping movements of the cat (it is very important that the teacher does not stand on the edge and gives the explanations for the games, but rather acts with the children. Otherwise it may be that with mentally handicapped children and even in normal children there is no response to the verbal request to play!).

Rhythmic lesson for mentally handicapped children from 7 to 14 years

Theme: "cat and mouse"

Matching phase: The common game with spinning tops

greeting by a soft toy (cat or mouse)

Compliance song: "Dance through the gate of the senses", 1st verse

Refrain: Two children face each other and form a gate with their arms. The other children run in a circle in a row and always through the gate. When the chorus ends, the two children close the gate over a child (i.e., the arms go down and enclose the child who is in between).

1st verse: The "Torkinder" touch the child with any object, material or small instrument. The child in the gate advises and / or describes what is felt.

Refrain: as above

(out: "Promotion of perception through rhythm and music", Herder, 1999)

Rhyme: "Four little feet"

  • as a finger game
  • as a movement game

Sensorimotor perception game (auditory focus, reaction): "The mouse trap": The children run as "mice" through the room. The teacher plays on the wooden sticks to run the "mice". Then he hits the sticks together (= snapping the mouse trap). Hear them "mice" the mousetrap, quickly make yourself small (curl up, crouch, hide). Repeat several times.

Variant: A child plays on the wooden sticks.

Rhyme: "Soft paw – cuddly cat"

Transition and rest phase: The cat is resting: The children lie curled up on the floor as cats. The teacher improvises a quiet melody on metallophone sound modules. Then she puts a pair of wooden sticks for each child. If a signal sounds on the pool, the children open their eyes.

Rhyme: "Four little feet"

  • in movement play with wooden sticks
  • in fine motor skills with sound sticks

Sensorimotor perception game (vestibular, reaction): The big feed: The children put their sound sticks (= eating) in a corner of the room. The teacher improvises on xylophone sound modules to run the "mice" in the room. If he stops playing, they run "mice" quickly e.g. to the "cheese". The children lay a wooden stick on their slightly spread upper lip and balance theirs "cheese" into the Mausehaus (seat circle). Repeat several times. During the last pass, the wooden sticks remain in the seat circle and are collected.

Transition: handing out towels

The children sit in a circle. The teacher collects the wooden sticks and then places a cloth in the center of the circle for each child. The teacher now winks at each child. Then this child takes a cloth from the center of the circle. Repeat until each child has a towel.

Song: "Schmi – schma – cuddly cat"

The children sit in a circle and have a cloth or fur as "cat" lie in front of you. They sing and move together to the song.
1. I run out of the house

and look for my friends.
The black cat runs after it,
I really like to play with her.

Run out of the seat circle, doing the "cat" Pull (cloth / fur) behind you.
Look gesture.
Stop and die "cat" stroke. Refrain: Schmi – schma – Schmusekatz,
jump after me with one sentence!

Schmi – schma – cuddly cat,
with a big sentence!

The song rhythm "cat" stroke.
Quickly move the cloth back and forth and at "sentence" throw up and catch.
To repeat. 2. I sit sweaty on a stone.
Yes, there must be a break.

The black cat sneaks up –
and then caress my legs.

Squat down with the back of your hand "sweat" wipe from the forehead.
Slowly pull the cloth / fur all around the legs. Refrain: as above as above 3. In the evening I come home tired
and quickly slip into bed.
The cat is already waiting for me there,
their fur is soft and cozy. Go back to the seating area and lie down.
The "cat" stroke. Refrain: Schmi – schma – Schmusekatz,
jumped after me with one sentence!
Schmi – schma – cuddly cat,
with a big sentence! The "cat" stroke.

(out: "Soft paw – cuddly cat", Active music, 1999)

Collect the towels

The children are in a circle. A child begins and leads "favourite game" with the cloth in front (e.g. let the cloth sail down slowly, thus rotating in a circle). Then he places his cloth in the middle of the circle. This is repeated until each child’s turn.

Say goodbye to a soft toy (cat or mouse)

Rhythmic lesson for severely mentally and physically disabled children from 4 to approx. 16 years

Theme: "cat and mouse"

The rhythmic lesson is given to mentally and physically disabled children "cat and mouse" a strong sensory focus. In the foreground of this lesson is the children’s joy in musical activity, since musical content such as the exact play of the speech rhythms, often only to be recognized in the beginning.

Small groups (approx. 4 to 6 children) are important for the hourly execution. Depending on the degree of disability, additional supervisors (e.g. parents) are required to support the children in the movement, to some extent lead the movement and repeat it several times. This lesson is designed for children who only sit in a wheelchair and can only move around in the room without a wheelchair (except possibly robbing).

Matching phase: Playing with simple spinning tops

welcoming song and greeting by a soft toy (cat or mouse)

Attunement and rhyme: "Soft paw – cuddly cat" as a hand gesture game

Rhyme: "Four little feet"

Transition and rest phase: The children close their eyes. The teacher plays one on a lotus flute, xylophone sound modules or on wooden sticks "Mausemusik", then on a triangle, metallophone sound modules, small cymbals or carillon "caterwauling". The teacher then places one of the listed instruments for each child.

Experiment phase with instruments: "caterwauling", "Mausemusik": The children play freely on their instruments. Then each child plays alone on his instrument and the others guess whether it is "Cat or mouse music" (In the case of severely disabled children, the ability to speak is often diminished or not available at all. Therefore, the teacher has to ask suggestive questions and read the answers on a gesture, a sound). instrument exchange.

rhymes "Soft paw – cuddly cat", "Four little feet" with instruments: The children put their instruments down in front of them. First the rhyme "Soft paw – cuddly cat" spoken. All children take that "cats instruments" have (e.g. triangle, metallophone sound modules, cymbals or glockenspiel) their instruments. The rhyme is spoken together and accompanied with the appropriate instruments.

The "cats instruments" are put back on the floor. Afterwards all children accompany the "Mauseinstrumente" have the spoken rhyme with the appropriate instruments. Instrument exchange and repetition.

Annotation: Accompanied rhymes are used by severely disabled children e.g. performed as spontaneous, ametric playing or as monotonous beating on the instrument. Therefore, I do not give a precise description of how to play with instruments.

Transition and sensorimotor perception game: cat or mouse? The children put their instruments on the floor in front of them. The teacher plays with wooden sticks on each child’s back in the following way: rapid tapping movements = mouse, gentle stroking movements = cat. The children guess. Then the teacher collects the instruments lying on the floor.

Sensory end: The children close their eyes. The teacher strokes the children’s hands and face with a fur.

Farewell song and farewell by a soft toy (cat or mouse)

The rhymes with the hour pictures

Rhyme: "Four little feet"

From her little mouse house, (left hand forms a roof on the left thigh, the mouse house)
running a small Mouse out. (Forefinger and middle finger of the right hand – the mouse – are in the "Mausehaus")
II: Tipp-tipp-tippel-tippel-tipp: II (the "mouse" runs out of the "mouse house": with quick movements of the fingers up the left arm)
The mouse is now cleaning its fur (index and ring fingers of the right hand gently caress each other)
then runs home quickly and quickly. ("mouse" returns to that "Mausehaus" back)

From her little mouse house, (the children sit as mice in the circle of seats)
a little mouse runs out. (run out of the seat circle)
II: Tipp-tipp-tippel-tippel-tipp: II (walk through the room)
The mouse is now cleaning its fur, (stand still and with your hands "brush" – anywhere on the body)
then runs home quickly and quickly. (run back to the seat circle)

  • as a movement game with wooden sticks

With the sound sticks, the children accompany themselves while walking in the rhythm of speaking. at "The mouse is now cleaning its fur" stroke the body with the sound sticks.

  • in fine motor skills with sound sticks

The children sit in a circle and accompany themselves with the wooden sticks in the rhythm of the rhyme. at "The mouse is now cleaning its fur" stroke the upper body with the sound sticks.

Rhyme: "Soft paw – cuddly cat"

The children sit on their knees on the floor at the beginning of the game. They speak and move the rhyme together.

Pinka, that’s my cat’s name. (alternately run your palms over your thighs)
It has a white paw. (a hand as a paw apparently "lick")
Her black fur is shiny. (caress your shoulders with crossed arms)
The Pinka can run fast. (get up quickly and walk around the room)
Search all over our house (keep running)
every day after a mouse. (Lurking on all fours – crouch – look for a mouse)
With the soft cat paws (alternately gently touch the floor with your right and left hand as a paw)
Pinka will never scratch me. (at "scratch" the claws – spread fingers – show)
Mieze – mause cuddly cat
Jump after me with one sentence. (at "sentence" jump up from a crouch)

The children sit in a circle. They speak and move the rhyme together.

Pinka, that’s my cat’s name. (alternately run your palms over your thighs = sneak)
It has a white paw. (a hand as a paw apparently "lick")
Her black fur is shiny. (caress your shoulders with crossed arms)
The Pinka can run fast. (alternately lightly? palpate on the thigh = run)
Searches all over our house (alternately running your palms over your thighs = sneaking)
every day after a mouse. (look for a mouse)
With the soft cat paws (alternately press gently on the thigh with the right or left fist)
Pinka will never scratch me. (at "scratch" the claws – spread fingers – show)
Mieze – mause cuddly cat (put hands on the thighs. "cat" waits)
jumps after me with one sentence. (at "sentence" both hands jump out of the way as a cat)

Bünner, G. / Röthig, P .: Fundamentals and Methods of Rhythmic Education, Stuttgart, 1979

Hirler, S. / Penz, E .: "Rhythmic games – hands and feet that can dance", Seelze / Velber, 1995

Hirler, S. / Penz, E .: "Rhythmic game stories – with all senses through the world", Book and CD, Seelze / Velber, 1997

Hirler, S .: "Children need music, games and dance", Book and CD, Münster 1998

Hirler, S .: "Promotion of perception through rhythm and music", Freiburg 1999

Hirler, S .: "Soft paw – cuddly cat", Rhythmic-musical songs, rhymes and imaginative games, hedgehog records / active music, Dortmund, 1999

Hirler, S .: "Hammering, typing, extinguishing fire", Game actions on the professional world, book and CD, Münster 2001

Hirler, S .: "How does the moon dance Experience fantastic stories with music, games and dance", Book with CD, Seelze / Velber 2002

Hoffmann Muischneek, S .: "How green sounds?", Liestal, 1989

Jungmair, U.E .: "The elementary", Mainz 1992

Klöppel, R. / Vliex, S .: "Help through rhythm", Freiburg 1992

Konrad, Rudolf: "Educational area rhythm", Seelze / Velber 1995

Krimm-von Fischer, C .: "Rhythmics and voice initiation", Heidelberg 1990

Mattmüller-Frick, F .: "The rhythm book", Basel 1990

Neikes, J.L .: "Scheiblauer rhythm – orthagogical rhythm", Sankt Augustin 1987

Peter-Führe, S .: "Rhythm for all senses", Freiburg 1994

Ring, R. / Steinmann, B .: "Rhythmic encyclopedia", Kassel, 1997

Schärli, O .: "Workshop of life – through the senses to meaning", Aarau 1995

Stabe, E.R .: "Rhythmics in elementary, primary and special school areas", Bern 1996

Tervooren, H .: "A way to humanity: rhythmic-musical education", Essen 1996

The film "Ursula or the unworthy life" is e.g. available at http://www.artfilm.ch/.

The regional associations of Lebenshilfe Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg and Lebenshilfe Hessen and North Rhine-Westphalia offer certified further training with Sabine Hirler as a lecturer in "Curative education rhythm" on. Information at http://www.sabinehirler.de, contact at email: [email protected] .

Sabine Hirler is a rhythm teacher, instrument teacher, specialist and children’s book author. She is active in the education of curative educators and in the further education of educators and therapists.

In: Martin R. Textor / Antje Bostelmann (ed.): The Kita Guide.


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