Primary Music Today review of Connections: Summer 2005
Connections is the result of a painstaking development process involving both research and piloting. The result is a very user friendly pack of 2 CD's of sings and relaxation tracks that undoubtedly fulfils its mission to provide music that is tailor made for children and young adults across the autistic spectrum. More than this, the songs are stylistically varied, well crafted and fun, while the music for relaxation is of excellent quality, both in itself and the standard of recording. What sets this resource apart is that its author is a composer who has brought the breadth of her own creativity and artistic experience to the project in addition to a commitment to take the time to work with the materials in practice. She has used the feedback of students and professionals to fine-tune the ideas, and to ensure the music works in the setting for which it is designed.
Specialist users, carers and parents will find this a stimulating and enjoyable resource to work with, and a wide spectrum of young people for whom it is intended will be greatly helped by the built in awareness of a range of needs. It would be a mistake to see Connections as use only to this target population, however. Most of the features of the songs that have been carefully integrated will make them invaluable in any mainstream primary classroom as well as a number of other settings- in special schools, after school clubs, youth and community groups. The direct, unambiguous language, the clear repetitive structures, and the straightforward musical qualities will help many join in with ease. Each song has a full performance on CD, with notes on aims, frameworks for activities and ideas for extensions or customising each. There are also tracks with tune only. This resource would also serve as a training model in raising awareness of variables both musically and in language and activities that can help a wider range of young people access and enjoy musical experiences.
The content of songs focuses on everyday life skills, topics and occasions with songs for welcoming, congratulations, transitions and saying goodbye that help build an overall session framework. There are two recorded stories that relate particularly to the experiences of people with autism; these would be a useful addition to classroom listening. The five relaxation tracks on CD 2 each draw on different sound palettes to create music from a range of timbres and soundscapes, including one that uses white noise and heartbeats in a mix with 'pre-birth' sounds. Advice for using at home is included with each track.
This is a high quality resource that many will find worth every penny of its price and more.