by Eddie Tuduri
The Rhythmic Arts Project educates individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities by embracing a curriculum that encompasses rhythm as a modality to address basic life and learning skills as well as reading, writing and arithmetic. There is always a need for innovative teaching in our society. The Rhythmic Arts Project accomplishes this by other than conventional means. Introducing this rhythmic concept gives the participants a fun way to approach basic life skills and scholastics that is as enjoyable to learn, as it is to teach; a win-win situation all around.
The TRAP program has been successful in addressing cognitive, emotional, and physical disabilities. Through inventive exercises, the program teaches and enhances skills such as: maintaining focus, using memory, socialization, turn taking, sequencing, sign language, Laterality, developing leadership, recognition and use of numbers, shapes, and colors, spatial awareness, fine and gross motor coordination, following instructions, and communication. Group teaching occurs in an environment that is supportive, cooperative and fun, and members naturally develop confidence and a positive self-image.
MULTI SENSORY APPROACH
Through perceptual motor match, visual, tactile and auditory combined with speech, the program makes learning successful as well as fun. We see the lesson, literally feel it and then hear it as we speak the answers. It is this redundancy of information that facilitates positive results in our classes.
HOW IT WORKS
TRAP is truly Rhythm in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic! The Curriculum encompasses exercises from basic life skills to rather complex and what might be considered advanced skills, even in the typical world. We use simple musical notation as the basis of our class. A quarter note is worth one beat! There are four beats to a bar and therefore four taps on the drum. A chart depicting four notes is considered the visual perceptual motor match. The drum is considered the tactile and because we can hear it, it becomes the auditory perceptual motor match. As we tap out the four beats we simultaneously count out loud adding the element of speech to the scenario, visual, tactile, auditory combined with speech.
When you and I learned to count to four, our teachers wrote the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the blackboard and we copied on our lined paper 1, 2, 3 and 4. This is the conventional pedagogical milieu most everyone subscribes to in modern scholastics. In the field of intellectual difference and disabilities the TRAP program articulates a new modality to entice the learner to succeed. Drums transcend normal logic; they draw us into the lesson in the spirit of joy and wonderment. We readily accept the learning as a part of this enthusiasm and tend to retain the lesson where conventional methods sometimes fail.
The quarter note is then the vehicle to differentiate left from right. Those notes now become (L) for left and (R) for right.
They then become colors, red, black, blue and green etc. We learn to articulate accents, rudiments, sequencing, sign language, shapes and geometrics. This exercise is a fun way to interpret our theme on shapes. For example – How many angles/sides have we in a triangle? We have 3 angles/sides in a triangle and it’s worth 3 beats. An oval is 1 beat, a square 4, a heart is 3 beats etc. First identify the color, sign the color, and play the shapes you see by the number of beats they represent.
The behavioral process is one of the most significant aspects of The Rhythmic Arts Project. Our main purpose is to have fun and to learn in the process. However, it is important to keep in mind that learning requires high expectations, structure, and reinforcement. We believe that when a person exhibits unacceptable negative behaviors, it is most often an inability to communicate their thoughts or they may very well be in an activity vacuum (where there is nothing of interest going on) and bored. Whether a group of 10 students, or individual lessons, these are the things to keep in mind in the course of your teaching.
Our students are all unique in their strengths and weaknesses. No matter what an individual’s ability level, we expect them to actively take part in a class. Those who are able to understand and perform the more advanced concepts can become model ‘teachers’ or ‘aides’ during a particular activity. Not everyone will fully engage in all the exercises. Some of our students may not have full use of their hands to grasp or the full range of motion to strike a drum. In this case adapted equipment is used if possible or we can play the instrument or voice the responses for them, everybody participates. It is important to remember not to get discouraged if active participation does not occur immediately. The most important thing is to always expect more from your students; never tell us what they can’t do, concentrate on what they can.
It is difficult to give you the “Elevator Speech” concerning The Rhythmic Arts Project as the lessons include hundreds of ideas compiled over nearly 15 years with therapists, doctors, teachers, administrators and experts in the filed of Intellectual Difference and Disabilities. Though seemingly complicated, the methodology is simplistic when followed chronologically and with guidance. The manual and videos show us how to facilitate and what’s more important, how to make learning fun.
Eddie Tuduri is the founder and director of The Rhythmic Arts Project. He is a career musician, who has worked with many of the world’s great entertainers.
He has also devoted his life to charitable causes and has received recognition for some of his outstanding work in the fields of disabilities, youth, and education.
Among the numerous awards he received, a few are listed below:
Volunteer of the Year award by The Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara, 1998.
Citation Award for Therapeutic Recreation, 2002.
The Michael Landon Award presented by the California Governor’s Committee, for accurately portraying people with disabilities in the media, 2005.
Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions Earth Charter Award for his commitment to youth education and outreach, 2009.
Muriel Anderson Music For Life Alliance Award for supporting music education and providing instruments for children who may not otherwise enjoy the experience of making music, 2010.
He founded the Rhythmic Arts Project in 1997 after a life-changing body surfing accident.
To learn more, please visit www.traponline.org
or call (805) 682-1702
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