“It was a Thursday in September,
A day I will always remember,
That was the day
We gave the Beamz a try.”
Well, enough already with the Temptations’ “Papa was a Rolling Stone” reference. I would like to share with you something special: I was asked by my friend, Mr. Ike Presley, of the American Foundation for the Blind, to give the BEAMZ a try.
I know you are wondering, “What in the world is a Beamz?”
The Beamz (pronounced beam-ZEE) is a wonderful interactive device using laser beams to make music. It enables people of all ages and skill levels to have fun creating and playing music. It is truly an instrument for students of all abilities. All of my students just happen to be between the ages of 6 months to 3 years of age. I used it first with one of my individual students. We were working on putting things in and taking things out. My student was doing very well with taking things out. Putting things in was a bit more challenging for him.
Thank goodness on that day we had use of the Beamz. After trying many different sizes of bowls to help my student put things in, I decide to try the Beamz as a great way to put things in and get a powerful reward. I helped my student hand-over-hand to move his hand in a vertical motion just like placing an object in a bowl. Every time he made his hand move down the Beamz it played a wonderful drum solo. I placed an object in his hand to place in the cradle of the Beamz and he and his Mother absolutely loved it. I realized that this device could definitely be a great aid in teaching cause - effect, up and down, left and right, in and out, and so many other concepts. The reward is very satisfying for both the child and the parent.
Later that week (on the Thursday that I reference earlier in my writing), the Wake Up and Sing class had an opportunity to try this thing out!
I started out by showing the class how the Beamz worked: You can play four different sounds at one time on the Beamz, you can choose to have the background music playing or just make sounds by themselves. Really these sounds are riffs, not just a chord. My students on this day preferred the Blue Grass Sounds: a nice crisp banjo, a fiddle with attitude, drums and piano. We took turns passing the Beamz around, helping the children hand-over-hand at first to produce some music. After a few tries, our students made beautiful music. The children preferred having the background music playing; every baby in the room had a big smile on their face. It was beautiful to behold. The parents loved it because everyone could have fun with the Beamz. It was exciting for everybody. The parents started coming up with other ideas of how to use the Beamz as a learning tool and as a Fun Tool.
I, Ms. Jacque, highly recommend the Beamz as a tool for stimulating, motivating and educating students of all abilities. David, my guitar, feels the same. Additionally, the Beamz is available to purchase through their website and has links to videos of children and families using the product.
Editor’s note: This product review was originally printed in the BEGIN Now! November/December 2014 newsletter.