Music & Deafness Page

The Role of Music Instruction in the Education of Children Who Are Deaf

Darrow, A. A. (1993). The role of music in deaf culture: Implications for music education. Journal of Research in Music Education, 41(2), 93-110.

The results of a survey of 300 TDD users indicated that respondents who attended music classes while in school were more involved in musical activities than respondents who did not attend music classes. Results also indicated that respondents who were mainstreamed were more likely to have received music instruction than respondents who were educated in self-contained classrooms were. Another strong factor in predicting involvement in musical activities was the degree of identification with Deaf culture. Singing and/or signing songs was the most preferred musical activity among the respondents. Ritual uses of music and music preferences were also examined.


Gouge, P. (1990). Music and profoundly deaf students. British Journal of Music Education, 7(3), 279-281.

Gouge urges British music educators to include students who are deaf in their music classes as he shares his experiences with the Music Club, a group of 15-year-old students who are deaf. Gouge examines the ways that students who are deaf relate to music and questions the assumptions made by music educators, which keep them from including students who, are deaf from their classes.


Darrow, A. A., & Starmer, G.J. (1986). The effect of vocal training on the intonation and rate of hearing impaired childrenís speech: A pilot study. Journal of Music Therapy, 23(4), 194-201.

The effect of vocal training on the fundamental frequency, frequency range, and speech rate of children who are deaf, was examined through analysis of their speech before and after receiving 8 weeks of vocal music instruction. Results of this analysis revealed significant changes in fundamental frequency and frequency range. The researchers concluded that vocal music training should be a part of the education of children who are deaf for its benefits to speech training.


Darrow, A. A. & Heller, G.N. (1985). Early advocates of music education for the hearing impaired: William Wolcott Turner and David Ely. Journal of Research in Music Education, 33(4), 269-279.

A look at music education in the early history of the education of the deaf in the United States and discussion of the arguments for music education for children who are deaf put forth by Turner and Ely in their 1848 article which appeared in the American Annals of the Deaf.


Darrow, A. A. (1985). Music for the Deaf. Music Educators Journal, 71(6), 33-35.

Stating that hearing impairment does not eliminate the music responsiveness of children who are deaf, Darrow describes adaptation of music activities for children who are deaf. Darrow also discusses music instruction as a tool of speech therapy in the development of good listening habits, auditory skills, figure-ground discrimination, sequential memory, and rhythm of speech.


Atkins, W. & Donovan, M. (1984). A workable music education program for the hearing impaired. Volta Review, 86(1), 41-44.

A description of the music classes at an elementary school, which contains a program for students who have hearing impairments. The application of the Kodaly method of music instruction in a multi-sensory approach is described. The authors advocate music instruction for musicís sake.


Spitzer, M. (1984). A survey of the use of music in schools for the hearing impaired. Volta Review, 86(7), 362-363.

A brief report of a nation-wide survey of 91 schools for children who are hearing impaired found that 57% of these schools included music in their programs. The survey also asked schools about their view of the purpose of music instruction in their curricula. For most of these schools (65%) improving speech was the goal of music instruction and 91% of the schools including music in their curriculum reported improvements in their students' speech. Musically trained teachers were reported to be more successful in achieving this goal.


Solomon, A. L (1980). Music in special education before 1930: Hearing and speech development. Journal of Research in Music Education, 28, 236-242.

In supporting his contention that music was an important part of early special education, Solomon presents historical evidence of music education at schools for the deaf. In examining this evidence he finds that not only was singing taught to improve speech, music was also used as a diagnostic tool before the invention of audiology equipment.


Hummel C. J. M. (1971). The value of music in teaching deaf students. Volta Review, 73(4), 224-228,243-245.

After a brief review of the history of music education for the deaf, Hummel examines the use of music instruction with children who are deaf. She concludes that music is an effective teaching tool because it is fun to do and that music is useful in teaching rhythm and sound perception as well as aiding children's speech development. A bibliography listing more than 100 books and articles about the education of and music instruction for children who are deaf is included in this article.


Sandberg, M. W. (1954). Rhythms and music for the deaf and hard of hearing. Volta Review, 56(6), 255-256.

This article examines the ways music is used to teach a sense of rhythm, establish a sense of confidence and poise, encourage self-expression, develop neuromuscular skills, encourage social development and adjustment, improve awareness of pitch and meter, practice lipreading, develop breath control, and relieve the tension of the constant struggle of language training in the education of children who are deaf. Examples of specific teaching techniques and activities are included.