Singing hands

A primary school choir using Sign Language

by ANNA DEL VACCHIO
    School sections
    • Primary
    Educational subjects
    • Choir
    • Music, Rhythm and movement

Singing hands

Singing hands was an activity conducted in the primary school where a choir was set up with the aim to sing using Sign Language.

It was a very involving activity for the students, and especially allowed them not only to carry out a rhythmic, melodic and textual analysis of the piece to be sung, but also to compare the syntax of the Italian language with that of Sign Language, and to share music with deaf people.

It allowed to develop coordinative, choreographic and ensemble music abilities; it accelerated the learning of the Italian language for foreign students; improved small motor skills and graphic-manual abilities; and, it was a very inclusive activity for students with Special Educational Needs.

Work tools

The Singing Hands activity requires

- a space suitable to host a choir in movement,
- a stereo or a computer in order to choose, listen to and reproduce music,
- a Sign Language interpreter (if the choir conductor does not have the suitable competences) in order to translate the lyrics and compare the syntax of the Italian language with that of Sign Language,
- the choir conductor’s competence to carry out a twofold simultaneous role as conductor of the vocal part and of the gestural part.

Educational purposes

The skills, goals and training objectives selected by the teacher for this experience are shown below.

Competences
    Listening
    • Interpretation
    • Comprehension
    • Analysis
    Production
    • Execution
    Reading and Writing
    • Use of conventional analogic music notation
GOALS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMPETENCES [...]
    Primary
    Listening
    • Learning to listen to oneself and to the others
    • Identify the constitutive elements of a simple piece of music
    • Listening, interpreting and describing pieces of music of different genres
    • Exploring, identifying and elaborating sound phenomena on the basis of quality, space and source
    Production
    • Producing timbre, melodic and rhythmic combinations applying basic schemes; executing them with the voice, the body and instruments (including IT tools).
    • Playing, alone or in group, simple vocal or instrumental pieces of music belonging to different genres and cultures, using also didactic instruments and self-made tools.
    Reading and Writing
    • Using analog and codified notation
Educational targets

The students learned how to:

- choose and/or listen to a musical piece critically;
- analyze lyrics with the aim to understand their message;
- identify and understand the metaphors contained in lyrics;
- analyze a musical piece rhythmically and melodically;
- reproduce correctly gestures in Sign Language, even using the facial expressions corresponding to the various signs;
- choose, among the signs already known, the gestural synonyms more functional for the sequence of signs to use;
- compare the syntax of the Italian language with the syntax of Sign Language;
- memorize lyrics;
- pronounce words clearly emphasizing the labial;

- memorize a gestural sequence in Sign Language;
- synchronize the signs with regard to the song listened to and the rhythmic spoken part;
- coordinate the width of their personal movements with those of the other members of the choir in order to create a choreography;
- use their voices singing in a choir, even polyphonic;
- control involuntary movements during the pauses in which they were not singing with Sign Language;
- synchronize their singing with Sign Language;
- follow the choir conductor, with regard to both the vocal part and the gestural part;
- manage their performance anxiety and stress due to performing in public.

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