December 2015 VSA Webinar: “Can You Feel It?: A Tactile Approach to Music Literacy”

The music classroom is a place for all students to experience music in a variety of ways. Learning to read music can be a challenge for many students and even more difficult for students with disabilities. Can You Feel It?: A Tactile Approach to Music Literacy, presented on December 1, 2015, addressed teaching music literacy to students with disabilities using a tactile approach. The presenter, Jennifer Nichols, offered instructions and ideas for creating or altering music literacy materials for students to feel and touch to help them develop the skills used in reading music. Attendees created their own tactile representation of music containing high/low pitches and quarter note and paired eighth note rhythms using just a pen or pencil and piece of paper.

Click on the play button below to watch a free recording of the Webinar. (You will be prompted to enter your email address and contact information prior to viewing the Webinar.)

December Blog Video Photo


Jennifer_Nichols-JNicholsHeadshotJennifer Nichols is a K-5 music teacher at Signal Hill Elementary School in Manassas, Virginia for Prince William County Schools. Jennifer teaches approximately 700 students including students with autism and students with moderate and severe intellectual disabilities. She received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Bowling Green State University and her Master of Music in Music Education from Boston University. Contact:

Summary of Discussion Topics:

  • Limitations of Traditional Notation
    • Typically only two-dimensional
    • Uses unfamiliar symbols
    • Requires advanced decoding and reading skills
  • Tactile Solutions
    • Create 3D music notation
    • Use familiar shapes/objects on music notation to help students read music
    • Use varying material for tactile music
  • Benefits of Tactile Music
    • Students actively engaged in reading music
    • Students can FEEL concepts in music such as pitch, rhythm and notation
  • Examples of tactile music solutions you can create (look at Presentation Slides located under “Links and Resources” to see explanations and instructions)
    • Simplified Staff
    • Writable Staff
    • Magnetic Staff
    • Student-Friendly Notation
    • Notation Vocabulary Cards
    • Adapting Existing Music
  • Other Ideas:
    • Communication board
    • Music books in larger font and Braille

Links and Resources:

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