Inclusive Music & Sound Resources

Music and Sound heater photo exploring music and sound together

Music is a universal language using verbal and non-verbal skills.

It transcends age, ability and culture, making it a brilliant tool for play and interaction. It is accessible to everyone in some way.

We can use it as a stand-alone activity or as a layer within other play ideas.

It can be complex or very simple. It can aid communication, serve as a memory trigger through repetition and provide energy and direction to an activity.

We can use music as a way to include the whole family and their skills, we recognise that some people are more inclined to ‘perform’ than others so incorporating everyone’s skills and praising their contributions, however small or silly they may feel, helps each person to feel valued. Give positive feedback, open body language and give full focus.

Some people use repetitive behaviours as a safe space whereas for others it can escalate challenging behaviours. Use your own judgement as to how this works in your group. If it is making things more difficult, then use a calming and slower rhythm, alike with a deep breathing exercise.


Conduct your own sound orchestra:

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Collect items from around the house that could make a noise

(check with their owner first) e.g. empty plastic bottles, containers with dried rice or pulses in) pots and pans, grill rack, newspaper, tin foil, plastic containers, cardboard boxes, cardboard tubes. And things to strike them with e.g. wooden spoons (cover with a sock to make a different sound), flip flops, metal spoons, whisk.

Choose a conductor / leader. Give them a hat to identify the role. Each player chooses an instrument (or you could use vocal sounds). The conductor points to players in turn to play their instrument. 

Practice with go and stop. Depending on ability you could use hand gestures, red and green cards, picture communication or whatever works for you. It is best if the same method is used by all so pick one you can all do. Music making is great fun but can get too loud/fast/high. 

Develop this activity to explore loud/quiet, fast/slow

Change the leader and allow everyone to have a go.

More skilled players might develop this into themes such as; Monsters, Superheroes, Seaside, Factories.

Music Sound Orchestra

How to use Garage Band to create kitchen music loops :

Follow the leader

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Choose the next leader by passing the hat.

The leader chooses the beat or pulse. Playing their instrument to a regular speed. 1,2,3,4. 

Each player joins in trying to keep the same. 

You could try changing leaders 

Develop rhythms. Maybe tapping the rhythm of someone’s name?

David Robertson = 1,2 3+4  (with 3+ moving faster as you would speak)

David Robertson - audio

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Develop ideas within the group. It could be describing what you are doing.
Going to the shops now = 1+2+ 3, 4

Going to the shops now - audio

Try to keep the words within the 1234 time. 

If you can work at a more complex level have 2 leaders with different rhythms.

Try the game with different instruments. 

Try combining speaking and playing.

David Robertson / Going to the shops now - audio

Making up fun songs to help with activities and transitions.

Choose a familiar nursery rhyme or simple song. Simpler the better as we will remember it. I often begin with the tune of “The farmers in his den”

Use the tune and change the words to suit the activity or transition you are doing. E.g. Putting on your shoes, tidying away, going to the shops.

 “We’re putting on our shoes we’re putting on our shoes, E I adeeo, we’re putting on our shoes.”

Putting on our shoes / going to the shops - audio

Pass the hat (use each person’s name where you hear “mm mm”)

Choose a song that fits well with the speed you’d like to go. 

The examples above work well for active things. 

If you want something more passive / calm, use something with a rocking feel like a waltz where the count is 1,2,3 rather than 1,2,3,4. E.g.  row row row your boat sang slowly, see saw or oom pa pa from the musical Oliver. 

See Saw

Use songs that others in your family like. This shows that you value their tastes too. If there is someone musical in the family, they might join in on an instrument.

Beware not to get too loud doing this as that could stop the activity.

Tidy Up - audio

Why not try using the notes from See Saw, Marjory Daw. Sing See Saw, See Saw whilst rocking or moving together. 

If someone in your group has difficulty with verbal communication, use whatever they can do. Use the See Saw repeated chant to frame the interaction or play you make with another. 

Time to rest our feet - audio

Remember to use your positive body language to encourage attunement (doing things the same)

Songs for activities and transitions

Call and Response

1.  This method has a question and answer that can be different (unlike follow my leader).

The leader (in the hat) sings or plays or gestures a call, a contribution, anything goes.  

The response can be a different rhythm or sound that comes in the silent space after the question. For people who have limited vocal skills, you can use movements, eye pointing and movements.

E.g. Call Response

Five little monkeys Jumping on the bed 

Bob the builder can he fix it? 

Hakuna Matada

Tap Tap bang bang bang

I Tiddly I tie (shake head)

Tap Tap Bang Bang Bang - audio

2. Use the references of things you are doing or things that you like.

Many theme tunes  and pop music have such call and response music.

E.g. the Doh Doh Doh part of Uptown funk by Bruno Mars

Doh Doh Doh - audio

3. Extend the game using skills you’ve already learnt above.

Change the speed, pitch or dynamics. Use a conductor. Add in movements. Add in objects.

Hakuna Matada - audio

Sound Effects

When playing creatively, you can use music and sounds to create sound effects.

What noise would each toy make? 

Bring your movement / dance / story to life using different sounds from around the house. 

Use repetition to enable your activity to develop.

Top tips for sound effects. Rice on a tray for the ocean. Stamping on newspaper for walking outdoors. Banging on anything metallic for an alarm (note metallic sounds can sometimes trigger people with sensory disorders).Detuned radio for white noise (makes people calm)

You can also use toys that have in built sounds to add to your selection.

Once you have chosen sounds for each item, tell / pay out / sing your story and join in.

Have fun and be open to opportunities.

Sound effects