A GUIDE TO MUSIC EDUCATION for SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN
Music Educators, Music Therapists, and parents of special needs children, all agree that music enriches their lives. The purpose of this article is to highlight specific issues, resources, and examples that will provide a springboard for positive achievement in the classroom, the community, as well as at home.
Law Is Clear
With the passage of the “Rehabilitation Act of 1973” and the amendments following under Section 504, school districts are required to address issues facing everyday learning environments of the special needs student. In addition, the “Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilties Act” set in place a consumer responsive statewide delivery system in every state, making assistive devices and training available to families who need the help. Parents and educators working closely to develop the special needs student’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) produce the best case scenario for all concerned. Every educator or staff person who works with the special needs child throughout the school year, including the music teacher, needs to be a part of all IEP meetings.
Music A Joint Effort
Music Therapy and Music Education do not offer the same benefits to children with disabilities though both play major roles in overall growth and development, according to professionals in both fields. “The goal of Music Education is to learn music, and the goal of Music Therapy is to improve the client or student’s health,” says Jennifer Sokira, Board Certified Music Therapist. She designs music programs and uses a number of techniques to achieve positive goals…adaptive instrument devices, computerized programs and resources like those for the non-verbal child who may profit from videotaping sessions. “Especially with those on the Autism Spectrum, we find that employing these methods actually improves skills like turn taking and fluency of sound and style.”
Kay Luedtke-Smith, Senior Music Therapist for the nationally renowned Fraser School in Minneapolis adds that using multiple teaching methods in an inclusive setting (typical and special needs kids) is valuable to both groups. According to Ms. Luedtke-Smith, mainstreaming is becoming quite common in public and private education and the music teacher should be playing a vital role in in this success. She suggests simple techniques like repetition of sounds or phrases, and something called “slow language,” which calls for the child to fill in missing beats of a familiar song.
Parental Support Is A Must
Singing with and listening to music with your child, providing musical materials and taping your child’s performances, taking him/her to concerts and other music oriented events certainly peaks the child’s interest. Stephen F. Zdzinski, Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of South Carolina’s School of Music, adds that when teaching special needs students, it’s good to use flashcards, color coding, and even “pictures of the song” to create a better learning environment. Another great way to increase a child’s love for music is to consider private, one-on-one lessons. Maistreaming the typical and special needs students in concerts and recitals, as well as church and school performances, is a wonderful learning experience for everyone; the typical student is finding that sharing the spotlight with special needs kids is actually a wonderful learning experience for everyone, and working together to “show off” new music accomplishments
is much more fun!
Music Soothes The Soul
“When life gets me down and seeing the bright side is really slim to none, I know it’s time for my music to rescue me!”
I hear this over and over again from many who’ve found the healing balm music provides. As someone else put it, “it’s almost like medicine, or therapy,” and I totally agree! The added blessing is that one doesn’t have to be a concert pianist, professional instrumentalist or vocalist to reap the soothing benefits! You just have to use the level of talent YOU have been given..
If you find yourself listening to music when you need a lift in spirit, you may want to consider playing an instrument….music is truly one of those gifts God gives to us and expects us to share with others. So give it some thought, cover those thoughts in prayer, and see what can happen when you allow music to soothe your soul!
There has to be a song—
To make our burdens bearable,
To make our hopes believable,
To transform our successes into praise,
To release the chains of past defeats….
There has to be a song.
Is It Too Late to Learn How to Play?
I hear folks say things like “I’d love to be more computer savvy, I’d love to write meaningful poetry, or I’d love to play a musical instrument, but I’m just too old to learn new things!” Hold on, this just may the best time ever to work toward new and exciting goals. And when it comes to playing an instrument, I’ve seen the rewards experienced by adults who were brave enough to say, “I’m going for it!”
Granted, adults usually have a different perspective than kids when beginning a new endeavor, but ALL music students come to the keyboard with an array of reasons for wanting to learn. Whether you are ten or fifty, you can discover a wealth of opportunities to broaden, and music, unlike some other activities we participate in early on, stays with a person for a lifetime because of its artistic nature and value! We may be limited at age forty when trying to keep up with our baseball, soccer, and football playing skills, but music talent can actually excel at this point in time!
So why DO some people start piano lessons late in life? Here are some of the reasons shared with me recently:
1) Something I always wanted to do but couldn’t, due to financial or time constraints
2) Something I DID begin as a child but didn’t realize what a neat thing it really was, so I just gave up too quickly!
3) I’ve finally found my music niche and want to concentrate on that.
4) I find that music of all kinds (but especially the piano) provides such soothing and therapeutic effects, and I need that as I grow older!
5) I’m really not as intimidated as I thought, because learning good technique gives me a real sense of accomplishment.
If you are an adult with the simple desire to learn more about playing the piano, and just want to give it a try, then give ME a call…you just may be ready to add a beautiful new phase to your life
(excerpts from an article written by: Carol McCulloch/edited by: Elizabeth Gromisch, for Brighthub.com, May, 2011)
LESSON RATE INFORMATION
45 minute lesson (in my home).
Lessons will include theory and technique.
Weekly or bi-weekly time frames are available.
Fee: $20.00 per lesson (paid either weekly or bi-weekly).
Teacher purchases books and other basic materials or student may share from teacher’s supply.
24 hours notice needs to be given if a lesson is to be missed!
Students must bring his/her books to each session for optimum benefit.
Teacher Contact Info: 540-400-3127 (C), or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to meeting and working with new students as time frames become available!
Private Piano Lessons