17 June 2020

Sound Communities: practical links between music and speech, language and communication

In January 2020, I CAN and Creative Futures launched the Sound Communities website, an online resource with information on the links between music practice and speech, language and communication practice, and practical ideas to support both.

This month, the website is being re-launched with some new and exciting updates based on feedback received from practitioners who are using the website. Kate Comberti (Creative Producer at Creative Futures) and Amy Loxley (Speech and Language Advisor at I CAN) outline some of the updates and new content on the website below.

The feedback received from practitioners using the Sound Communities website since its launch in January 2020 has been overwhelmingly positive. Early years practitioners told us that the website was well put together, easy to navigate, informative and full of useful resources and ideas. To add to and improve the website even more, we have taken on board a few suggestions made by practitioners for further information and resources. Read on to find out what we’ve improved in the June website update.

Even more video examples


Practitioners told us that they loved viewing the video examples of real-life practitioners in early years settings using the ideas and activities suggested on the website. Because people said this was such a useful feature, there are four new video examples being uploaded in the June update. These additional videos demonstrate even more examples of how communication and interaction can be encouraged between children and adults through the medium of music.

Sound Stone stories


Another exciting update to the website is the addition of a tip sheet on “sound stone stories”. Story stones are a great starting point for creating stories and they can also be used for exploring music within the context of a story. Kate Comberti tells us about an experience she had using sound stone stories at a nursery in Eastbourne below.

“I turned up to a nursery in Eastbourne on a sunny afternoon and Laura the early years practitioner was very excited to share with me her basket of story stones she had made with the children. They were beautiful, with bright colours and blobs of paint representing all kinds of things, bugs, the sun, flowers, anything the children could think of that would fit on the grey shiny surface of the stones. We lay them out on the carpet and spent the afternoon exploring all the different sounds we could make with the stones, banging them on different surfaces, tapping and rubbing them together to sound out the syllables, and then finally composing or making up tiny fragments of music with instruments and our voices to represent the different images. Finally, we put them all together and made up a story that we performed together. We had such fun!”

To shed more light on this idea, a tip sheet on this topic has been added to the Practical Tips and Strategies section of the website. Check it out to read an example of a sound stone story created by us, as well as some tips for how to go about creating your own!

English as an Additional Language (EAL) section


Some practitioners told us they came to the Sound Communities website with questions about children who are learning English as an additional language. As a result of this feedback, a webpage specifically on this topic has been added in the June update. This answers some frequently asked questions in this area, including when to be concerned, and which areas of the website might be most useful for these children.

As outlined on the webpage, it’s important to remember that there is only cause for concern if a child is displaying difficulties in both their home language and English. Practitioners should not worry if children are taking a bit of time to learn English when they are initially exposed to it (such as when they start nursery, for some children) as long as their skills in their home language are developing as expected. However, some of the ideas on the Sound Communities website rely less on children having strong English language skills and focus more on supporting listening, play and social interaction, all skills that are important in any language a child is using or learning. Have a read of this new section of the website to find out which ones.

You can access the Sound Communities resource online at https://soundcommunities.org.uk/ - have a look at the updates and don’t forget to let us know your feedback using the pop-up survey on the website.

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