Emily MacQuarrie tells us how she easily overcame the fact that the colours of tuned percussion don’t always match up with Figurenotes.
I am a music teacher at Drummond School Inverness, a school for pupils aged 3-19 who have additional support needs. All of our pupils have severe learning difficulties and many have severe and complex needs.
I first started using Figurenotes two years ago and it is now used in both the primary and secondary departments. In my experience, Figurenotes has allowed pupils to access music in new and creative ways. It enables pupils, regardless of learning disabilities, to read and play music. I have found it very successful, both on a one-to-one and a group basis, with pupils able to play pieces of music together. This would not have been possible without the use of Figurenotes. In addition, Figurenotes supports successful learning experiences and builds pupil confidence and does not lead to the frustrations and difficulties that pupils often experience when learning to read and play music.
When teaching early years and lower primary I often use colourful tuned percussion, as it is much more visual and captivating for the younger children. A problem that I encountered was that the rainbow bells, boomwhackers, and chime bars are different colours to the Figurenotes colours, which can cause some confusion. Recently I have repainted my rainbow bells so I now have a Figurenotes hand bell set. This has enabled me to introduce Figurenotes into early years, which has been so beneficial. It is amazing watching the pupils’ sense of achievement when they have managed to play a melody they already know well using the hand bells or chime bars.
In order to repaint the hand bells, I bought plastikote spray paint cans in the Figurenotes colours. I taped up the white handles with decorators tape and sprayed each bell with three to four coats, leaving 40 minutes between each respray.
I also screwed plastic bottoms on the bells so that little fingers could not pull the spring mechanism. For this I used the single coffee filter cup lids fixed to the base using existing holes on the base of the bell.
Here are a few photographs of the bells being used in one of the classes at Drummond School: