Songs for You and Me – Music Book for Special Needs Children – Deborah Blair, PH D. and professor at Oakland University has released “Songs for You and Me”,
an iPad book designed to enhance musical experiences for children with special needs and learning disabilities.
“Songs for You and Me” is available through Apple iBooks and features sing-along songs for children of all musical ability levels. Designed for all children interested in music, the book aims to promote inclusion in music classrooms. Coupled with graphics, musical maps allow learners to follow lyrics as the songs are sung. Since the songs are offered in a mobile format, learners can sing and listen to them at their own pace at home or school. According to Dr. Blair, the technology enhances the classroom experience for all children, particularly those with learning disabilities.
“The book helps children with special needs interact with music in a way that keeps them engaged with the music and with their classmates,” Dr. Blair said. “Since the technology is accessible to all students, everyone can participate and no one is isolated.”
Dr. Blair added that the book may be especially helpful for students with autism “who value visual strategies for learning.”
After publishing, Dr. Blair piloted the book to a group of K-12 music teachers for use in their classrooms. One of those educators, Alice Hammell, Ph.D., is a university professor and leader in the field of teaching music to children with special needs. She described using the book to teach a child with autism.
“The ‘light bulb’ illuminated and my 9-year-old student with autism nodded in appreciation of the aural and visual representations of “Shalom” as I guided her fingers through the listening map in “Songs for You and Me.” I was amazed at the way she grasped the iPad to own her learning through independent mapping skills I had not seen before. To watch the demonstration of a skill I had been preparing for weeks was a truly pivotal moment.”
Dr. Blair is currently working on the second installment of “Songs for You and Me” and plans to pursue a third in the future. For more information on “Songs for You and Me,” and other teaching resources, visit Dr. Blair’s website at musicalmaps.weebly.com.
ABOUT SONGS FOR YOU AND ME
This sing along book series is intended for all children to enjoy with friends and family. Book One contains three songs: All the Pretty Little Horses, Great Big Stars, and Shalom. Each is illustrated with the melodic contour represented in a graphic score. The book also includes videos with the illustrations moving with the songs as they are sung and videos of the songs played on classroom instruments, keyboards or iPad apps.
The educational intent of “Songs for You and Me” is to foster inclusion in music classrooms. Because the songs are offered in a mobile format, learners of all abilities may have more opportunities at home or throughout the school day to engage in listening to or singing these songs alone or with others. The goal is for learners to become more familiar with the songs and lyrics and to gain musical competence and confidence prior to entering the music classroom, thus creating an environment for positive social inclusion and peer interaction.