Movement, Rhythm as Teacher BAVX review
Review Bal-a-vis-x Resonance book (2007)
Newer 2nd edition is unseen by me. If you have seen both please comment.
CAUTION ~ if you use BAVX exclusively with clients, this may not seem like a fair review of BAVX. However if you also know about juggling, jumprope, Waldorf beanbag and copper rod exercises thru the grades — as remedial exercises — then perhaps you will appreciate the fairness attempted here.
IF Bal-A-Vis-X or BAVX is brand new to you, this is an acronym for 200 Balance/Auditory/Vision eXercises, all of which are deeply rooted in rhythm. Using sand-filled bags and racquetballs, these exercises address visual tracking deficiency, auditory imprecision, impulsivity, balance and anxiety issues.
Exercises range from tossing-catching one sandbag to bouncing-catching four racquetballs in sequence. Partner exercises require up to six balls to be in motion with accompanying feet patterns. In BAVX bag exercises are often combined with foot patterns. Ball exercises are often done while standing on special balance boards. Exercises address visual tracking deficits, auditory imprecision, impulsivity, balance and anxiety issues.
In partner and group settings, exercises demand cooperation, promote self-challenge; and, invite peer teaching.
BAVX enables a very large fraction of our capacity for aware focus and aware attention, to be active, on multiple levels, at the same time. Activating awareness on multiple levels simultaneously, naturally activates a large fraction of all parts of the head brain and gut brain.
All exercises are scalable. They can be made more complex OR more easy for those with severe special needs. The Resonance book covers several decades of trial and error experiments in the 1980s, in one Wichita grade one classroom, up thru gradually more precise exercises with 7th graders into 2007.
I believe Bill’s Resonance book is the major text on BAVX. The other major resource is his videos behind a moderately priced pay wall. In short chapters and spare sentences, Bill reports on his journey of developing BAVX. This is of interest to Occupational Therapists, PTs, counselors, rehab specialists, speech/language therapists, parents of children with academic troubles, parents of children with severe special needs.
Why is BAVX a revelation to so many teachers and professionals? Usually physical movement and repeated rhythmic physical movement is 100% excluded from the “toolbox” of those professionals supporting children and adults struggling to learn. Not even jumprope is much-employed.
“Bal-A-Vis-X is for everyone. It is effective for students who are labeled:
- Learning disabled: Results include improved cognitive integration,
- Behaviorally deficit disordered/attention deficit hyperactive disordered: Results include decreases in impulsivity and increases in attention span,
- Gifted: Results include improved physical coordination and diminished stress headaches.
- Typical: Results include improved academic success yet requires less effort — http://www.CandiCosgrove.com/what-we-offer/bal-a-vis-x (has 15 short demo videos) More demo videos here: https://integratedbrain.co.uk/examples/ “
Let’s also recall the above also describes a great many benefits of jumprope and Waldorf-method bean bag; and, Waldorf-method copper rod exercises.
What’s good about BAVX in this range of options is, bean (sand) bag and ball exercises are more accessible to public school parents and teachers.
The Resonance book converges an earlier account of BAVX development up to 2001 i believe. This earlier info remains as valid today as it was then. The second part of Resonance is BVX developments 2001–2007. It contains more info relevant to therapists and those teaching severe special needs children or adults (autism, CP, MS, TBI, PTSD, etc.).
A companion book, CUES: For Learning and Teaching in Flow, published in 2014 is unseen by me. It concerns setting the stage for learning, creating safety and trust with child clients, conducive environment, and other “cues.”
Good and bad news abut how Resonance is written
Even within the unusual topic of movement-based activities to remediate learning disorders, Resonance is written in a highly unusual form. It is written as a Facebook blog posts of Bill’s life — not literally from Facebook yet exactly a blog style. This is almost 400 pages of Facebook timeline posts, every time he misplaced his wallet, every time he got sick on a BAVX training, every up, every down in his life related to BAVX.
These posts include what he learned and the range of experts he met and learned from. However these posts are abundantly interspersed with a great deal of the rest of his life; such that, due to the repetitive nature of posts, only the most dedicated BAVX practitioners will be able to persevere past 200 pages — unless a collection of BAVX blog posts is your cup of tea.
The unusual blog post format also has some positives. Consider some Waldorf remedial literature, such as:
- the original Extra Lesson book, and
- “Therapeutic Eurythmy: Strengthening Neurological Pathways” (2014) Sub-title: “Why & How Therapeutic Eurythmy can be Most Effective Working with Developmental Processes and Issues of Our Time” With Drs. Michaela Glockler and Susan Johnson — http://www.youandyourchildshealth.org/articles/therapeutic-eurythmy-interview.html
This literature has its own very considerable barriers to access, due to the over-intellectualizing of what in practice is simple.
Even the most famously useful book of Waldorf Movement Based Learning for Children, Take Time: Movement Exercises for Parents, Teachers and Therapists of Children with Difficulties in Speaking, Reading, Writing and Spelling (1994) by Mary Nash-Wortham & Jean Hunt, is basically a handbook of exercises without much context. Bill’s in-depth reportage of BAVX in his life and how BAVX bettered the lives and home-life of his assistants, is in many ways easier to read and learn from as a text.
Resonance is not a BAVX textbook
Bill spreads BAVX thru sale of his videos in DVD and online at Vimeo.com; and, thru live two-day trainings. This seems fair to me as a way to monetize his knowledge. This also explains why the available public BAVX videos are inadequate for those wishing to learn exercises.
Bill’s Resonance book does not teach the exercises. While actual teaching moments are frequently described, stories range widely across PRE-teaching moments, preparing learner and teacher for quality time together, parent testimonials, the arc of each of his young assistant trainers; and, his successes and trials with his young trainers on road trips teaching BAVX classes.
BAVX as healing thru rhythm
From Resonance, it’s clear to me Bill spent five years or more bouncing balls a-rhythmically. It must have been chaos each child bouncing balls to their own rhythm, each at a different tempo, balls and bags going everywhere at once. Finally Bill did learn to have all kids do exercises in unison, in rhythm together, so all balls hit the floor at the same time, an auditory validation-measurement of successful hand-eye performance.
Iain McGilchrist on BAVX
Beyond “rhythm,” an even more holistic way to describe the benefit of BAVX comes from Iain McGilchrist. Iain is author and speaker on the updated, rectified view of brain lateralization based on stroke research.
If Iain was looking at a BAVX session, I believe he would say BAVX supports personal integration by “forcing” learners to use both sides — all sides — of their brain at once, simultaneously. BAVX exercises “force” individuals to move and be aware of both small hand-eye tracking details AND the rhythm of what the whole group is doing. Staying in synch with all player-partners turns on even more parts of the brain.
Beat vs. rhythm discussion
Bill comes at movement-based activities to remediate learning disorders from the angle of coordinating hand-eye-auditory and five-sensory perceiving including balance (vestibular system).
BAVX, is informed by many earlier innovators, Paul Dennison, et al. All are listed in the four-page bibliography. The end result is a zen-like movement meditation where talk — in any form, for any purpose — is minimized. This no doubt was reinforced by Bill’s years as a martial arts instructor.
The good side of this approach to bags, balls and balance boards is it facilitates instruction and conveyance of competency. In movement therapy, our talking-thinking mind mostly gets in the way.
The down side of this approach is an artistic approach to these activities is largely suppressed.
Shocking? Inflammatory? Yes I understand. To understand this remark, we have to go back to the discussion of the difference between beat and rhythm which occurred in Europe but not in the US, between 1930–1980 I believe.
Some readers will know of the 1927 movie, Metropolis, by Fritz Lang. In it, workers are shown walking in lockstep, working at man-sized clocks — all in monotonous, mechanical “rhythms.”
I’ve watched at least 90% of all the BAVX public videos online. Each shot is of short duration. If you imagine these routines going on for 2, 5 ten minutes, I believe you will share my sense, beat is being served, not so much rhythm. The sounds produced by ball bouncing have many similarities with drum beats, especially when done without variation in timbre, volume or beat duration.
This possibility in movement-base learning was discussed in Europe, at least in Waldorf circles, for several decades. it may be a lost topic now. The question was how to avoid the automaton quality of beat in such exercises?
I believe the solution to this came in the 1950s, in US Waldorf schools, where beanbags were used for hand-eye coordination, and repeating math facts and times tables. I think the history is short, imaginative poems had been use for copper rod exercises in Eurythmy. Then when US Waldorf teachers in the 1950s began using beanbags, they naturally added short, imaginative poems. If any anyone knows this history better, love to hear it.
For some readers, what will be missing from BAVX is short, imaginative poems and songs sung and recited while doing the exercises, similar to jump rope rhymes.
Jump rope rhymes have just this purpose also, to mitigate the mechanical monotony by specifying additional movement tasks and/or imaginative associations to “lift up” jumpers out of the monotony of beat alone.
“A skipping rhyme (occasionally skipping-rope rhyme or jump-rope rhyme), is a rhyme chanted by children while skipping. Such rhymes have been recorded in all cultures where skipping is played going back to at least the 1600s. Examples of English-language rhymes have been found since the 1700s” ~ Wikipedia
According to Bill, in BAVX, advanced partner and group ball bouncing routines, were mostly devised by his young assistant teachers. I acknowledge these display a great deal of artistry and creativity.
To “lift up” the deadening quality of pure beat, I also acknowledge the efficacy of:
- Reciting short imaginative poems rhythmically while passing beanbags,
- Reciting addition-subtraction facts, times tables and division tables while passing bags, and
- Singing well known songs, like Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Over the Rainbow” while passing bags.
Whole-brain turn on ball bouncing
So far in BAVX I have yet to see bouncing a ball under your leg while you lift your knee. Possible to do this with two balls, bouncing a ball under either knee alternatively while walking forward. Possible to do this under either knee alternatively while walking backwards. Maybe this is in the advanced videos I have not seen (see article link in To Learn More).
In light of Bill’s distance from Waldorf rhythm and beanbag exercises, it needs to be said, adding poem recitation and singing to the BAVX exercises is the easiest way to make it more artistic and friendly to the whole child. Minus all imaginative imagery and music, BAVX looks nice in two minute videos. Kids will indeed do these exercises (they hunger for movement, for rhythm as teacher); yet, a distinct mechanical tone sets in quickly.
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Teachers as classroom architects
In Suggestopedia, the teacher is the architect of a highly stimulating; and, psychologically safe, environment, where students constantly surprise themselves by what they can remember and use creatively.
Material is assimilated before it is analyzed, much in the way children naturally take in any new situation. The emphasis is on optimizing the learning environment and process. Testable results are regarded as “side effects.” A proper learning process is usually two to three times as fast as conventional information memorization approaches. We are learning how to learn so our kids can learn how to learn ~ Lonny Gold — http://www.new-renaissance.com/lonny/index-en.html
Amazon reviews and book blurbs
To Learn More
“RSA ANIMATE: The Divided Brain” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI
For jumprope as healing-rhythmic movement for children see — http://www.movementforchildhood.com/remedial--class-teacher-articles.html
Bal-A-Vis-X Founder, Bill Hubert’s website — https://www.bal-a-vis-x.com/
Buy DVDs on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/intbavx
“Step-wise Switching On, Thru movement how to activate all your conscious, subconscious and unconscious intelligences” (2022) — https://holisticbrainbalance.wordpress.com/2022/08/15/step-wise-switching-on/