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Music maestro.

BEING ABLE TO MAKE music can be both a rich and rewarding experience. Playing along with recordings of favorite songs or with friends is both fun and satisfying and offers opportunities for self-expression. The creative process that occurs during play is critically important. Adapting musical toys offers youngsters with disabilities access to the development of their creative abilities, along with their siblings and friends.

Easy-Play Violin[Trademark] from Soundsations has many features. For youngsters who are able to use both hands simultaneously, the buttons on the neck of the violin may be held down individually in play mode, while the bow is slid from side to side to sound separate notes. The youngster may create new and different songs in this manner. In program mode, one of seven songs that are prearranged may be played by using the bow. In demo mode, one of four songs may be played. Some youngsters may only use the bow, while a sibling, parent or friend resets the program choices or operates the individual note buttons.

Several modifications may be made to this toy. Plastic buttons available from suppliers of plastic may be placed on the note buttons on the neck of the violin. These buttons have adhesive on their backing and may be easily applied. For some youngsters, this modification may be all that is needed. For others, additional plexiglass extenders may be added to each note button by gluing them on top of the buttons, if the extenders are not cut to an overly long length. The extenders may also be placed diagonally, so that one extender may cover only one of the buttons while others cover two at a time. The flexibility of the plastic button underneath the extender allows each note button to be accessed individually by pressing either end of the extender.

A wooden frame may be made to encase the body of the violin by tracing the outline of the instrument and then using a hand power saw or scroll saw to cut out two pieces. Two small separate pieces of wood are then cut with slots that will allow the bow to move through (see diagram). These bridge pieces are glued onto the base, on either side of the violin, nearest the rocking mechanism that allows the bow to play the notes. The bow may be inserted through the slots of the bridge pieces. The bridge pieces guide the bow and prevent it from leaving the track as the youngster plays.

For some youngsters, it may be easier to play the violin by placing their hand between the bridge pieces, while rocking the bow sideways to play notes and songs. For others who are able to use two hands, they may wish to grasp either end of the bow by placing their hands outside the bridge pieces. Additional handles may be added to the ends of the bow using tubing available from a hardware or plumbing supply store.

This particular model offers many options and choices which may be overwhelming or confusing for some youngsters. Another model is available from Tomy which does not require the use of two hands. It does not have buttons on the neck of the violin but does allow the youngster to play preprogrammed songs with a bow. The same modifications previously described for using the bow may be used with the Tomy model.

The Tomy Violin [Trademark] is available from Toys R US[Trademark]. The Easy-Play Violin[Trademark] from Soundsations is available from Woolworths.

Alice Wershing is Toy Program Coordinator and Computer Resource Specialist at the Disabled Children's Computer Group in Berkeley, California. The author wishes to thank the staff of the Disabled Children's Computer Group for their continued support and guidance in completing articles for this magazine.
COPYRIGHT 1991 EP Global Communications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Wershing, Alice
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:evaluation
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:627
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