Music and Fine Arts Programs
Tennessee School for the Blind Music Programs include the following:
Elementary Music Program- Georgette Seay, Instructor
The music programs at TSB are thriving. Students are provided with a variety of experiences for effective learning, community building, and emotional growth. Students experience singing, dance/creative movement, note reading, recorder and/or hand bell training, theater, and playing a variety of rhythm instruments. The staff utilizes the Making Music curriculum in addition to a variety of enrichment material in order to give students a well-rounded program.
Each winter and spring the students perform in school-wide programs. These may include mini-musical productions and theme-based variety shows. Exciting experiences created during the performances form wonderful, lifetime memories as the students build a sense of confidence and pride in their accomplishments. TSB loves music and it shows through our wonderful elementary students!
Alternate Academic Music
The TN School for the Blind offers many music programs for students of all levels. For Alternate Academic students, music is used as a tool to help develop skills that may be a challenge or undeveloped. These include body awareness, gross and fine motor skills, spatial concepts, speech development, and social interaction. Music aids as well in emotional health and motivates students to reach their potential. In addition to this, all students have the opportunity to perform in both the winter and spring music programs each year.
Voice Program- Georgette Seay, Instructor
For more than 15 years TSB has offered vocal training where students learn through private instruction, proper singing techniques, posture, breathing, and expression. Students work on many different styles of music and are given an opportunity to perform their work in seasonal recitals open to the public. Voice instruction is open to grades 9-12 depending on the maturity of the voice, academic understanding, and high demand. All potential students are chosen by the music staff and must show significant vocal potential to be considered. TSB also involves students in Mid-state/All-state competitions where students audition with students from all over TN to sing in a highly esteemed choral festival. This gives our students a wonderful enriching and unbiased experience with their sighted peers.
In addition, a small select number of students, with singing as a college career, have the opportunity to do a senior recital to prepare them for college and to showcase their talent to a public audience. The process of selection is done on an individual basis by the music staff.
TSB Tiger Band
The TSB Tiger Band has three major objectives:
- Instill an appreciation of instrumental music of all kinds,
- Develop a sense of team concept through individual and group preparation for performance,
- Provide a vehicle for a lifetime of pleasure through instrumental performance.
Band membership is open to any student desiring to learn and perform. The senior band currently has twenty-eight members. The beginning band has seventeen students from all three curricular programs.
The TSB Jazz Combo is an extracurricular audition group that concentrates on small ensemble popular music.
All students are expected to use individual tools and abilities to read and learn the required music. Music is presented in regular print, large print, and Braille music code. Extensive aural reinforcement is also used in rehearsal.
The band has received superior and excellent ratings at the MTSBOA and North Tennessee Concert Festivals. They have participated in the Nashville Veterans Day Parade. They also perform at numerous functions at TSB and the surrounding community.
Many TSB students receive private piano lessons. They are taught Braille music notation and, where appropriate, music is enlarged for students with some sight. There is a heavy emphasis on ear training and music theory. In addition to studying classical piano literature, many students develop their own individual style of playing. Creativity is strongly encouraged. An advanced piano student plays the piano accompaniments for the high school chorus. All private piano students have performance opportunities in school recitals during the school year
The TSB choral program is very active. We have a large chorus of forty junior high and high school students. Rehearsals are scheduled for forty-five minutes each school day. The chorus performs during school assemblies, holiday concerts, and during the graduation ceremony each year. A select group of students from the chorus forms a smaller choral ensemble who perform off-campus many times throughout the school year. Performances are given at civic clubs, schools, local churches, and other organizations. In December of 2001, the TSB chorus was featured in the holiday youth program with the Tennessee Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.
Music Therapy/Tactile Sounds
Tennessee School for the Blind offers many music programs for students of all levels. Music therapy is available for students in early childhood as well as those students where music can be a tool to help develop skills. These include body awareness, gross and fine motor skills, spatial concepts, speech development, and social interaction.
The music therapy room is equipped with a resonating music floor in which students can experience tactually, the concept of sound, and actually feel their voices as they sing or make noises. This is especially helpful for deaf/blind students and for those with speech challenges.
The Resonating Music Floor and its Purpose
The resonating music floor has been designed for those with multiple disabilities who are both verbal and non-verbal having sensory impairments such as: hearing, visual, and tactile deficits. The technology of the floors structure ushers in the third dimension, or sensory input of touch to the existing inputs of sound and sight, which stimulates every facet of the child’s being. Thus, the odds of a child responding would be much greater with this unique vehicle of communication. The Tactile Sound Transducers, supplied by Clark Synthesis, Inc., hold the ability to help develop and reinforce basic concepts including: rhythm, tempo, dynamics, verbalization, socialization, coordination, gross motor skills, and self-awareness in all children. For example, children who have difficulty moving to a beat will not only hear but will also sense the pulse in their bodies, which helps them identify more clearly when to move.
Motivation, behavior modification, and simulation have been the most obvious benefits of this system. Inappropriate behaviors in various students have many times instantly changed due to direct use of the floor. It is said that music has a calming effect, and after some hands-on experience, this proves true. Many hyperactive children when initially encountering the vibrating floor would leave their chairs to lay peacefully on the surface, embracing its effects. On the other hand, there have been cases of several inactive or non-participant children who would cheerfully jump from their chair to leap, shake, and dance to the inviting pulse they felt and heard.
In regard to motivation, non-verbal children who would not respond to verbal stimulation alone, had been seen clapping, stamping, jumping, swaying, etc.to acquire the floor. One such student who formerly refused to cooperate or participate in activities, became so enthusiastic about the vibration that he did just about anything, including actually verbalizing and singing small phrases of music to gain the reward of the music floor. This proved not only his reward, but a vital key to his development and growth. Another student became so attached to the floor that he would actually cry and express extreme dissatisfaction when having to leave the classroom every day.
Stimulation for the deaf/blind child proves vital to his/her development. For this person, sensory impairments are the most severe for he/she lives in an isolated world. With the resonating floor, it is possible to communicate the concept of sound and rhythm in a tangible way through touch.
One exciting adaptation of this system involves connecting a microphone in such a way that a student can feel the vibrations of his/her voice while speaking or singing into it. The entire room resonates as they vocalize. This technique works tremendously well with non-verbal or verbally delayed students because again, another sensory input is added resonance. There was a verbally delayed student who greatly disliked microphones and refused to vocalize in their presence. However, when presented with this microphone, she actually reached for the mic and spoke/sang to her heart's content. It became difficult to remove the microphone from her! Other like cases have developed directly from this feature.
It’s exciting to watch students emerge and progress with almost immediate effects due to this floor system. Though recently developed technology, many lives have already been greatly impacted by its existence. As you can see, many gains have already been accomplished with the use of the resonating floor, and I’m sure there will be many more that are yet untapped.