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Teaching music to handicapped kids

Teaching music to students with behavioral or mental learning disabilities.

Teaching music to handicapped children takes a special kind of person: someone who is patient, intelligent, and educated on the students disabilities. Music is a difficult subject to teach to handicapped children because it requires so much participation and understanding. However, the gifted, experienced music teacher can do it, and successfully.

When you find out you will be teaching a child with a disability (whether privately or in a classroom setting), find out immediately what the child s disability is, the severity of it, and any other information you need to know. Look up the disability in the library or go see a special ed. teacher to talk about what to expect from this student. If you are teaching in a classroom setting, immediately talk to the child s classroom teacher (or former teacher, if the school year hasn t started yet) and look up his or her IEP. An IEP is an individualized education plan, and every child with a serious, documented learning disability has one. It is your legal responsibility to follow the child s IEP. An IEP may include specifications such as allowing extra time to take tests, seating the child at the front of the classroom, or other small allowances. It may also provide for an aide in the classroom most or all of the time.

When you first meet the student, introduce yourself to the student and get to know him. If he has an aide, get to know her, too. If the student does not have an aide, but his behavior is continually disruptive to your classroom, speak to the special ed. teachers or to the principal of the school about getting one in your classroom. An aide can manage the student s behavior while you teach the class so the other students don t miss out on educational opportunities.

Realize that this student may learn slower than other students, or he may learn faster. Students with autism spectrum disorders may learn very fast, but may be disconnected from the classroom environment. Many students with behavioral disorders, in fact, are very intelligent, but are emotionally immature and/or unable to communicate appropriately with people. Try to understand the student s method of communication and accept it, even if it is not what you would consider appropriate for other students. Of course, you must correct the behavior if it s getting in the way of your other students ability to learn, but be more patient with a student who has learning disabilities.

Each of these students will learn differently. One of the best ways for them to learn, in general, is kinesthetically that is, hands on. Explain to the child carefully what you want him to do, and give one instruction at a time. Children with behavioral disorders often can t communicate well enough to understand more than one instruction at once without getting frustrated, even if they can understand doing multiple things at once. For this reason, clear, simple instructions are necessary.

As far as teaching a child to understand, give him all the pieces of a new idea at one time, and see what he makes of them don t feed a new skill to him bit by bit, because he will not see the overall purpose of the activity. For example, if you are teaching rhythm, hand the student rhythm sticks and display a card with a simple rhythm on it (say, four quarter notes). Then, count the rhythm as you point to the card. Play the rhythm while counting once. Play the rhythm while counting a second time and ask the student to play and count with you. Then, give the student another card and ask him to try it himself.

An ordinary student might ask why, might question what quarter notes are, or need further explanation as to why they re doing what they re doing. Children with behavioral disorders tend to understand without this explanation. Communication is what s difficult for them, not understanding. Nobody really knows how a lot of these students think, so don t make any assumptions about a child s understanding until you hand him the skills and see what he is capable of learning.

In a private setting, you are able to spend much more time with the student, and you are able to cater directly to his learning needs. It s a good idea to have another adult in the room, especially if the child is easily distracted. Let the student take control of his own learning. He will be more motivated to learn if he feels he has control over it. Also, if you give him the pieces of what he should learn and don t talk too much about them, he will figure things out more readily and be less frustrated than if there is a lot of communication he s forced to try to understand.

For example, if you are teaching a child to play the violin, give him the instrument and show him how to hold it, and the bow. Then ask him to pick up the instrument and play on the open A string twice, then the open E string twice. Many ordinary students struggle with this, because they are very careful to do it right. They are tuned in to the verbal instructions and the interaction with the teacher. Special ed. students may do very well immediately because they are focusing on the task at hand rather than communication and approval from the teacher.

As the student advances, if he refuses to do what he is supposed to, ask him what he would like to learn. Then, turn his answer around so that you are teaching in a way that suits you. For example, maybe he would prefer to learn a different, but equally easy song. Allow him to. If you are trying to teach him fingerings for the violin one at a time and he isn t responding, teach him all the fingers at once and show him a song. Ask him to do what you do, and make sure he s watching you do it. This kind of visual modeling will help a learning disabled student far more than verbal instructions will.

Overall, you must be creative and patient with special education students. Keep verbal instructions to a minimum, and usual visual modeling and kinesthetic learning approaches as often as possible. Remember that each student is different and that your approach will be somewhat different. Keep mental notes (or actual notes) on the students you have, on what approaches have worked, what approaches haven t worked, and what you might try next. Get feedback from the student s parents, other teachers, and anyone else you possibly can. Through all of these methods, you can successfully educated students with learning disabilities in music.

Written by Catherine Hillard -

Classical Definition of Ghazal

Abhay Avachat

Although, many would be knowing this, for some this information can be new, for some this will mean precise description of some general terms. This article has become "technical", but I hope it's not boring. And I also hope, this is helpful for the Ghazal fans.

Instead of giving my personal views, I thought of quoting somebody who is an authority. There is book/dictionary/colection of Sher's titled "Aaina-e-ghazal", which IMHO is a treasure for every Ghazal fan. In this there is a long essay - "Ghazal kya hai ?" by Dr. Arshad Jamaal.

The essay is written in Hindi, and is about History of Ghazal, its development, its milestones, important Shayar's etc. One part of it describes the definition of Ghazal. The following is loosely based on that. The essay talks only about what is a Ghazal. To that I have added in the following, what is not a Ghazal. So any mistakes in these parts, are mine. [ These are enclosed in square brackets like this. ]

Also one thing should be kept in mind that, this is not mathematics. So "preciseness" of the "definition" should not be questioned.

Ghazal in short, is a collection of Sher's which follow the rules of 'Matla', 'Maqta', 'Beher', 'Kaafiyaa' and 'Radif'. So to know what Ghazal is, it's necessary to know what these terms mean.

To understand these terms easily , we will take an example.

1. koi ummid bar nahin aati

koi surat nazar nahin aati

2. aage aati thi haale dil par hasi

ab kisi baat par nahin aati

3. hum wahan hain, jahan se humko bhi

kucch hamaari khabar nahin aati

4. kaabaa kis muh se jaaoge 'Ghalib'

sharm tumko magar nahin aati

What is a Sher ?

It's a poem of two lines. This definition is deceptively simple. Please note that, every Sher is a poem in itself ! A Sher does not need, anything around it, to convey the message.

All the 4 stanzas in our example are independent poems, Sher's.

So Ghazal is necessarily a collection of two-line-poems called Sher.

[ So the Rafi solo "rang aur noor ki baaraat kise pesh karu" is NOT a Ghazal, as every stanza is of 3 lines, and not 2. ]

What are other restrictions ? Many, and important ones.

[ Any collection of Sher's is not Ghazal. Some good examples are ; the famous Mukesh song from Yehoodi, "yeh mera deewaanaapan hai" ; and the title song of "dil apana aur preet parayi". Each stanza in these songs can be considered as an independent Sher, but they are NOT Ghazal's. To understand, why, we have to wait till 'Kaafiyaa, 'Radif'. ]

What is 'Beher' ?

'Beher' is the 'meter' of the Sher's. It can be considered as the length of the Sher. Both the lines in the Sher *MUST* be of same 'Beher'. And all the Sher's in one Ghazal *MUST* be of the same 'Beher'. There are 19 (!!) kinds of 'Beher'. But in simple terms, 'Beher' is categorized in 3 classes. Short, medium, long.

The examples in [] and italicised are my additions, from Hindi Films.

Small :

ahale dairo-haram reh gaye

tere deewane kam reh gaye

[ Also Talat song, "dil-e-nadan tuze hua kya hai" ]

Medium :

umr jalwo me basar ho, ye zaruri to nahin

har shab-e-gam ki seher ho, ye zaruri to nahin

[ And by Gulzar, "ruke ruke se kadam, ruk ke baar baar chale" ]

Long :

ai mere humnashin, chal kahin aur chal, is chaman me ab apanaa guzaaraa nahin

baat hoti gulon ki, to seh lete hum, ab to kaaton pe bhi haq hamaaraa nahin

[ The filmfare winner, "Manzile apani jagah hai" !! Yes ! It IS a Ghazal. And the Shayar is Prakash Mehra !! surprise , surprise !! ]

So Ghazal is a collection of Sher's of SAME 'Beher'.

What is 'Radif' ?

In a Ghazal, second line of all the Sher's *MUST* end with the *SAME* word/s. This repeating common words is the 'Radif' of the Ghazal.

In our example, the 'Radif' is "nahin aati".

[ Sometimes, the Ghazal becomes known by its 'Radif'. eg. "jaraa aahista chal" sung by Pankaj Udhas. On RMIM we all know one Ghazal by the 'Radif' as "aahista aahista", don't we ? or is it 2 or 3 ? :-) ]

What is 'Kaafiyaa' ?

'Kaafiyaa' is the rhyming pattern which all the words before 'Radif' *MUST* have.

In our example the 'Kaafiyaa' is "bar", "nazar", "par", "magar" etc. This is a necessary requirement. Something which is followed even in the exceptions to all these rules.

So Ghazal is a collection of Sher's of same 'Beher', ending in same 'Radif' and having same 'Kaafiyaa'.

[ That's the reason, why "yeh mera diwanapan hai" etc. are NOT Ghazals. There is no common thing which can be called 'Kaafiyaa' and 'Radif'. ]

What is 'Matla' ?

The first Sher in the Ghazal *MUST* have 'Radif' in its both lines. This Sher is called 'Matla' of the Ghazal and the Ghazal is usually known after its 'Matla'. There can be more than one 'Matla' in a Ghazal. In such a case the second one is called 'Matla-e-saani' or 'Husn-e-matla'.

In our example, the first Sher is the 'Matla'.

What is 'Maqta' ?

A Shayar usually has an alias ie. 'takhallus' eg. Mirza Asadullakhan used 'Ghalib' as his 'takhallus' and is known by that. Other examples are 'Daag' Dehlvi, 'Mir' Taqi Mir, Said 'Rahi', Ahmed 'Faraz' etc. There is a Sher in a Ghazal, the last one, which has the Shayar's 'takhallus' in it.

[ A Shayar, can use the 'Maqta' very intelligently. He can "talk to himself" like one in our example. I have lots of favourite Sher's which are 'Maqta' of some Ghazal. Some gems are:

koi nam-o-nishan puchhe to ai kaasid bataa denaa,

takhallus 'Daag' hai, aur aahiqon ke dil me rehte hai


jab bhi milte hain, to kehte hain, "kaise ho 'Shakil'",

iske aage to koi baat nahin hoti hai

The first one uses the meaning of the 'takhallus' to create the magic, and the second one is just simple, simply beautiful. ]

To summarize, Ghazal is a collection of Sher's (independent two-line poems), in which there is atleast one 'Matla', one 'Maqta' and all the Sher's are of same 'Beher' and have the same 'Kaafiyaa' and 'Radif'.

Exceptions And Important Points to Note

1. Ghazal is just a form. It is independent of any language. eg. in Marathi also, there can be (and there are) good Ghazals.

2. Some Ghazal's do NOT have any 'Radif'. Rarely. Such Ghazal's are called "gair-muraddaf" Ghazal.

3. Although, every Sher, should be an independent poem in itself, it is possible, that all the Sher's are on the same theme. What famous example can be other than "chupke chupke raat din aasun bahaanaa yaad hai".

4. In modern Urdu poetry, there are lots of Ghazal's which do NOT follow the restriction of same 'Beher' on both the lines of Sher. [ My example in 'Maqta', the Sher by Shakil, is one. ] But even in these Ghazal's, 'Kaafiyaa' and 'Radif' are present.

5. The restriction of 'Maqta' is really very loose. Many many Ghazal's do NOT have any 'Maqta'. [ I think 'Maqta' was used in the earlier times, as a way to keep the credit. But since this is traditional, many Ghazal's do have a 'Maqta' just for the sake of it. Sometimes the name of the Shayar comes unnaturally in the last Sher of the Ghazal.

So that's my long essay on Ghazal. I hope it helps in clearing some doubts, and I also hope that atleast for some, the information was interesting and new.

Ghazal rudaad hai naakaamiyon ki,

Ghazal mehrumiyon ki daastaan hai |

Ghazal riste hue zakhmon ka marham,

Ghazal ek chaaraa-e-dard-e-nihan hai |

Ghazal ka husn hi hai, husn-e-aalam,

Ghazal ka noor hi noor-e-jahan hai |

- Jagdish Bhatnagar 'Hayaat'

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