EXERCISES IN THE RECOGNITION OF SOUNDS For these exercises it is desirable to use didactic material, which is used in the main institutions for the deaf and dumb in Germany and America. Such exercises are an introduction to the study of the art of speech and are highly conducive to the concentration of children’s distinctive attention on the modulations of the human voice. In the early years of childhood, it is necessary to pay great attention to the education of speech. Another goal of such exercises is to accustom the child’s ear to noise: he learns to distinguish the lightest noise and compare it with the sound; made sensitive to coarse and discordant noises. Such education of feeling is of value, which exercises the aesthetic taste and contributes to the development of practical discipline to a high degree. We all know how children disturb the order in the house with their screams and the noise of overturned objects.
Strictly scientific education of the sense of hearing is almost unattainable with the usual didactic material. It cannot be otherwise, since the child is not able to exercise on his own, as it was possible in the field of other feelings; With the instrument that reproduces the gradation of sounds, only one child can work at a time. In other words, sound recognition is required. "absolute silence".
Ms. McCheroni, Headmaster "Children’s home" in Milan, invented and ordered a set of thirteen bells suspended on a wooden frame in Livorno. These bells are completely identical in appearance, but when they are hit with a hammer they give the following thirteen tones:
The set consists of two rows of 13 bells and four hammers. Having struck one of the bells in the first row, the child must find the corresponding sound in the second row. This exercise is a great difficulty, since the child does not know how to strike always with the same force and produce sounds that vary in strength. Even when the teacher hits the gavel, children hardly find the difference in sound. It seems to us that this tool in its external form is hardly particularly practical.
For the recognition of sounds, we use the Pizzolian series of whistles; for recognition of noise shades, boxes are taken that are filled with substances that are more or less fine (from sand to pebbles). We make noise by shaking the boxes.
Practically, I teach the lesson as follows: I ask the teacher to restore the silence with ordinary measures and then continue her work, making the silence deeper. I pronounce: "st! st!" modulations, then sharp and short, then lingering and quiet, like a whisper. Children are little by little hypnotizing. I now and then say: "Hush, hush more!", – and again I make a whistling sound, lowering my voice more and more and repeating: "Hush still quieter!" in a dying voice. Then, almost in a dramatic tone, this is how the bell comes from the land from the sea, I, as if losing my senses, whisper: "Now I hear the wall clock. Now I hear the flight of flies and midges".
Children enthusiastically observe such absolute, so complete silence that the room seems deserted; Finally, I whisper: "Let’s close our eyes".
This exercise, being repeated, teaches children to stillness and to absolute silence, that if someone breaks it, just one sound, one glance, to immediately call him to order.
In such silence, we begin to produce various noises and sounds, which at first strongly contrast, and then more and more similar. Sometimes we make comparisons between noise and sound. It seems to me that we achieved the best results by the primitive means that Itar used as early as 1805. He took the drum and the bell. His lesson was to demonstrate a graduated series of drums, which gave noises or, rather, heavy harmonic sounds – indeed, the drum belongs to musical instruments – and a series of calls, from a bell to a bell. A tuning fork, whistles, caskets do not attract a child and do not bring up the sense of hearing to the same extent as these instruments. It is curious that two great human beginnings – hate (war) and love (religion) – introduced these two different instruments: a drum and a bell!
Having silence, you should ring the well-chosen bells, then soft and thick tone, then ringing and cheerful. And when we carry out, so to speak, the education of the whole child’s body with the help of rationally selected bells, and the world spreading into the very fibers of their being will spread through the body of children, they will become sensitive to coarse noise and will learn not to love, but to avoid discordant and unpleasant sounds . After all, the ear of a person who received a musical upbringing suffers from harsh or dissonant notes. I do not need to prove with examples the whole importance of such upbringing of children. New generations will grow more balanced. They will be disgusted with the disorder and discordant sounds, cutting our ear in the ugly houses, in the cramped quarters of which the poor live, sacrificed to the most base, the most animal instincts.
^ Musical education. It must be thorough and methodical. Generally speaking, small children indifferently pass by a good musician, as an animal would pass. They do not perceive the gentle complex of sounds. Street children gather around the organ-grinder, as if greeting the noise they enjoy in place of sounds.
For musical education, we must create both instruments and music. The purpose of the instruments, besides the recognition of sounds, should be to awaken the sense of rhythm, to encourage calm and coordinated movements of those muscles that already vibrate in the stillness silence.
I suppose that string instruments are the most suitable for this purpose, especially a simplified harp or lyre: together with the drum and the bell, it forms the trinity of classical instruments. Harp – a tool for the intimate life of the individual. Legend puts it in the hands of Orpheus, folk legends put it in the hands of the sorceress, and the fairy tale – in the dexterous hands of the princess endearing the heart of the beautiful prince – in a word, they attribute it to the times of peaceful and simple humanity, to the times of a life similar to a child’s simple life. A teacher who turns her back on the children in order to extract sounds from the dubious charm of the piano will never be the teacher of their musical sense.
The child must be fascinated in every way, both by the looks and by the pose. The teacher, who, bending down to the children around her who are free in their manifestations, will touch several strings in a simple rhythm, will enter into intercourse, intercourse with the soul of the child. So much the better if the game is accompanied by her voice, and the children are free to repeat to her without being obliged to sing. Then she can choose the most "suitable for education" The songs are those that all children can sing along with. It is necessary to graduate the complexity of the rhythm according to the difference in ages, so that the song can be voluntarily picked up either by older children or babies. In any case, I am convinced that simple primitive instruments, such as bagpipes and strings, are most suitable for waking up in a child’s soul soft, calm moods.
On the contrary, wind instruments, like a trumpet and a pipe, cause rhythmic muscular movements and a very educational spontaneous gymnastics, that is, dance; the dance should rather approach the merry, simple and free movements of the peasants on the current, than to the complex salon dances.
I suggested to the director "Children’s home" in Milan, a very talented musician, to make a series of experiments to study the musical abilities of young children. She performed a series of experiments with the piano and made sure that the children were insensitive to the musical tone, but only to the rhythm. On the rhythm, she built simple light dancing, wanting to study the effect of rhythm on the coordination of muscle movements. To her surprise, she was convinced of the educational and disciplinary influence of such music. Almost all of her pets grew up without any discipline, in the streets and courtyards, and almost all were in the habit of bouncing. Being a zealous supporter of freedom and apart from bouncing a bad act, she did not stop them. And now she noticed that as she diversified and increased the rhythmic exercises, the children gradually fell behind the ugly habit of jumping and, finally, completely forgot about it. One day, the headmistress asked her to explain this change in their behavior. Some of the little ones just looked at her, without saying a word, the older children gave different answers, but their meaning was the same: "jump is not good", "jump ugly", "jump rough". Here is the brilliant triumph of our method!
This experience proves that it is possible to cultivate the muscular feeling of a child, and also shows what refinement this feeling can attain when it develops in connection with muscular memory and with other forms of sensory memory.
^ Testing the acuity of hearing. The only completely successful experiment that we managed so far to "Child’s home"This is an experiment with a clock and a whisper. This experience is not measurable, but it is very useful, giving us a rough idea of the hearing acuity of a child.
The experience is that, having established complete silence, we draw the attention of the children to the ticking of the clock and to all the noises that usually do not reach their ears. Then we call the children in turn from the adjacent room, pronouncing the name of each one in a low voice. In preparing for this exercise, it is necessary to explain to the children the true meaning of silence. To this end, I arranged various silent games that surprisingly contribute to the establishment of exemplary discipline in our "Children’s homes".
I draw the attention of the children to myself, let them observe how quietly I behave.
I accept various poses – I get up, sit down, all the time silently and very calmly. Even fingers, if I move them, can produce a sound, albeit a very inconspicuous one. We can breathe in such a way that we cannot be heard, but I support absolute silence – the thing is not very easy. I call the child and ask him to do the same thing as me. He moves his foot and this makes noise! He moves his hand, stretches it and – again the noise! His breathing is not completely silent, not so calm, absolutely inaudible, like mine! While the child is doing this exercise, and my brief explanations are replaced by intervals of stillness and silence, the rest of the children watch and listen to us. Many of them are interested in a fact that they have not noticed before — namely, that we are making so much noise without noticing it, and that there are various degrees of silence. Absolute silence is obtained when nothing, absolutely nothing moves. They stare at me in amazement when I stand in the middle of the room so quietly as if "i’m not". Then they try to imitate me and even outdo me. I now and then pay attention to someone’s legs, moving almost unconsciously, and, in a passionate desire to achieve complete immobility, the child begins to pay attention to every part of his body. After all this, silence reigns, quite different from what we blithely call this word. It seems as if life is gradually fading away, as if the room is slowly becoming empty, as if no one is left in it. Then we begin to hear the ticking of the clock, and this sound, as it seems to us, grows in strength as the silence becomes absolute. From the street, from the courtyard, which seemed to be silent, sounds begin to be heard — then a bird will chatter, a child will pass. Children are fascinated by this silence. "Here, says the headmistress, there is no longer anybody; all children have disappeared somewhere".
Having achieved such silence, we darken the room and let the children close their eyes and put their heads in their hands. They take this posture, and absolute silence reigns in the twilight.
"Now listen, – we say, – a quiet voice will call you by name". Then, having gone into the next room and standing in the doorway, I begin to call in a quiet voice, chattering syllables, as if shouting from behind a mountain. This voice, almost mysterious, seems to penetrate the very heart, the very soul of the child. Each child, being called, raises his head, opens his eyes, as if awakening from blissful selflessness, then rises, silently, trying not to move his chair, and comes out on tiptoe so quietly that he is barely audible. However, his footsteps are heard in silence amidst total immobility.
Reaching with a happy face to the door, he rushes into the room, suppressing laughter; another child hides his little face in the folds of my dress, the third one, turning around, admires his comrades frozen in a silent daze like statues. The one who was called feels flattered, as if he received a gift, an award, and they know that they will call everyone, starting with the most silent in the room. And so, everyone tries to deserve the honor of being called one of the first by complete silence. Once I witnessed how a three-year-old baby tried to suppress sneezing and how she managed to do it. She held her breath and came out victorious. What a marvelous effort!
This game is extremely popular with children. Their tense faces, their patient immobility – testify to the tremendous pleasure they experience. At the beginning, when I did not yet know the soul of the child, I showed them sweetness and toys, promising to give all this to those who will be called. I thought that convincing a child to make the necessary effort can only be a promise of a gift. But I soon became convinced that there was no need.
The children, making the necessary effort to maintain silence, enjoyed the sensation itself. The silence itself was pleasant to them. They were like ships hiding in a safe harbor; they were happy, having experienced something new, having won a victory over themselves. That was their reward. They forgot about the promised candy and did not even want to touch the toys that I thought would seduce them. I therefore left useless tricks and with amazement made sure that the game was becoming more perfect, and three-year-old children remained motionless in silence all the time they needed to call as many as forty children from the room! That’s when I learned that the soul of a child finds its own reward and has its own spiritual pleasures. After these exercises, it seemed to me that the children became closer to me, and, wow, of course, they became more docile, more gentle and gentle. Indeed, we were isolated from the world and spent many minutes in close contact – I called them, and they listened in perfect silence to a voice directed personally to each of them and made each of them happy!
^ Lesson of silence. I want to describe one lesson that gave children an idea of complete silence, which is possible to achieve. One day, intending to enter "Children’s home", I met in the yard with a woman with a four-month baby in her arms. The child was tightly swaddled, as is customary in the inhabitants of Rome (the Italians call this child in diapers "navel"). The infant baby seemed to be the embodiment of peace. I took him in my arms, and he continued to lie in undisturbed silence. I went with him in class, from where the children ran out to meet me. They always greet me in this way, wrapping my arms around me, clinging to my dress and almost knocking me over. the heat of delight. I smiled at them and showed "navel". They understood and began to jump around, with eyes shining with pleasure, but without touching me already, fearing to disturb the child.
I entered the classroom, surrounded by a swarm of children. We sat down, and I was placed on a large chair, instead of sitting down, as usual, on one of their small chairs. In other words, I sat down solemnly. The children looked at the baby with tenderness and delight. None of them said a word. "I brought you a little teacher." Goggles and laughter. "Yes, little teacher, for none of you can be as calm as she is!" After that, the children changed their vines and sat quietly. "And yet none of you hold your hands and feet so quietly as she". The children straightened their arms and legs. I looked at them with a smile. "Yes, but your hands will never lie so quietly as hers. You move them a little bit, but she doesn’t move them at all. No one of you can be so meek as she is!" On the faces of the children seemed serious expression. They seemed to understand the idea of the superiority of the little teacher over them. Some smiled and seemed to say with their eyes that all the merit should be attributed to the diapers. "None of us can be so silent, voiceless as she is.". General silence. "It is impossible to lie as quiet as she is, because. listen to her breath, how quiet it is; approach her on tiptoe!" Several children rose from their seats and, slowly walking on tiptoes, bent over the baby, full of silence. "None of you can breathe so silently as she". The children looked at each other in amazement. It never occurred to them that the silence of the infant is deeper than the silence of an adult. They almost completely stopped breathing. I got up. "Go quietly. quiet. Come on tiptoe and make no noise". And she added: "Here I still make some noise, but she, baby, goes with me and does not make noise, she goes out in silence!" The children smiled, they understood the truth and the joke of my words. I went to the open window and gave "navel" mother, who stood outside the window and watched us.
The little one left the atmosphere of gentle charm, which filled the children’s souls. And in fact, is there anything more in nature than the quiet breathing of a newborn baby? There is some indescribable majesty in this tiny human life, in silence and peace of accumulating power and energy. When you think about it, even Wordsworth’s description of silent peace seems weak. "What peace, what silence! The only sound is a drop falling from the paddle.". The children also felt all the beauty and poetry of peaceful silence in the newborn human life.