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Sydney Seed

MUED 373
Practicum Observation

The room was set-up in a circle of chairs with an included drum set. There were three

adults with varying levels of ability, a care provider who came with them, and a music facilitator.

The adults played either drum set, electric guitar, or acoustic guitar. I was on ukulele, and the

facilitator rotated between acoustic guitar, electric bass, and drum as needed to best support the

sound, or a specific individual.

The music facilitator seemed to be assessing steady beat, and everyone’s individual

ability to contribute to the music. What were they doing musically, and were they enjoying the

experience? He did this by spending a solid amount of time in the beginning starting a tempo

and asking everyone to match him. After a minute or so we were encouraged to improvise

within his tempo. I believe he was assessing individual creations, because he adjusted the

volume level of the electric guitar, and replaced the drumsticks with brushes saying he was

having a hard time hearing the acoustic guitar. He also gave everyone the opportunity to initiate

their own steady beat, and have the group follow their lead.

After the steady beat warm-up he asked for song suggestions. I liked that when no one

immediately called out a song he asked if they wanted options. It felt like a comfortable amount

of structure that still allowed for individual choice. I was also impressed with the facilitator’s

tone of voice. I know you are supposed to speak normally when working with people with

disabilities, but it was hearing his normal voice that I realized mine was higher and happier than

normal. I tried to address this in the moment, but I need to spend additional time reflecting on

my tone of voice in general.

What surprised me the most was that not a single chord was mentioned. Having zero

chordal instruction forced me to use my aural skills, and discover the music for myself. I believe

the adults were mostly focusing on rhythm, but it is possible more instruction on which chords

were being used was given in previous weeks, and they were playing them from memory.

However, I think it is more likely that they were never given specific chords because the learning

objectives were very different from traditional music classrooms. It was not about learning a

song, and performing it at a high level, it was about the musical experience.

The hil ren’s Museum Observation