This video shows highlights from, and summarises impacts of, research into the use of vibrotactile feedback in the music classroom at Royal School for the Deaf, Derby. It was kindly funded by the UK Acoustics Network.

Research involved directly observing lessons, gathering video and documentary evidence of evolving teaching practice, pre-intervention hearing profiles of pupil participants and pre/post-intervention questionnaires by pupils, teachers and education assistants involved in lessons.

Immediate impacts observed included a more accurate understanding of musical pitch, increased pupil interest in music lessons, and heightened engagement, teamwork and cooperation during lessons.

For teachers, a levelling up of access to sound across all pupils, irrespective of their hearing loss and assistive technology use, meant that new teaching and learning opportunities were opened up for the first time. The music teacher said: “It’s changing the way I teach!”

As a result of this positive impact on musical teaching and learning, Royal School for the Deaf have decided to embark upon a fundraising drive to purchase their own vibrotactile equipment.

The project was reported on recently in the Derby Telegraph

While the Musical Vibrations equipment was on site, we met the wonderfully enthusiastic musicians from orchestra Sinfonia Viva, who were at the school, carrying out a series of music workshops with a large group of primary children at the school. This was in preparation for the #ThisIsDerby concert where schools from across Derby came together to showcase their musical co-creations.

Closeup of 5 red vibrotactile shakers on a blue carpet in a concert hall. one shaker has a blue cardboard tube attached to it. In the background are a stage containing chairs and music stands.

After some modifications to increase the effective surface area of the vibrotactile equipment, all the children were able to touch the vibrating surface at the same time, enabling a common pulse from the live music to be shared. This opened up new musical opportunities such as call and response, which had previously seemed out of reach.

Young school pupils in orange t-shirts, sat on a blue carpet. Three have their hands on a vibrotactile shaker to listen to music