Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tuned In To Learning: Kid Tested and Therapist Approved!

I feel like I might be late to the party on this topic, but better late then never! The "Tuned in to Learning" (TIL) program has been around since 2004. I think I have seen it around, but never got a chance to look into it. After all, there are so many new music programs for learning out on the market! Until now, I have not found one that I could wholly recommend. TIL had the advantage of being developed by music therapists and an autism specialist who field tested it before it was presented to the public.

TIL addresses many of the problems I have with using recorded music for therapeutic purposes in the education setting. For example, most recorded music is too fast and provides too little space for learners with disabilities to participate successfully. Much of the children's music also caters to kids in the general education setting with lyrics that speed by and contain advanced vocabulary. TIL successfully manages these issues and takes it a step further by using lyrics to provide directions and information.

I tried out some of the songs during recent music therapy sessions to see how the kids would react. I used various songs from the TIL sample CD in an early childhood setting, elementary school and high school classes. In every instance I was impressed that the children immediately participated in the songs and quickly learned what do to. I feel this is an important indicator because sometimes it takes children with disabilities a few times experiencing a new song before they really start participating. I also found that the songs allowed plenty of time for my clients to respond verbally or follow modeled movements to the music. I was able to use the songs during therapy without a problem since they directly addressed some of the goals and objectives that I have been working on with my students.

The TIL music comes with picture books, printable content and sometimes a DVD or CD-ROM. The music I have listened to so far is very pleasant with catchy tunes and nice sounding vocalists. They have employed clever instrumentation and arrangements so that the music often provides cues for actions and words. Each learning module is centered around a theme, so teachers, home-schoolers and parents can buy appropriate material such as, "Social Skills and Pragmatics," or "Wh Questions," if they can't afford the entire set, although I believe many school districts have purchased the full curriculum. I am always looking for good materials to recommend to my classroom teachers so that they can do music activities with goals and objectives in mind in between my therapy visits. I highly recommend this Tuned in to Learning series.

Tuned in to Learning

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