Although music educators often experience challenges in the inclusion setting, most agree that music is beneficial to all students, including students with disabilities (SWD). This literature review includes areas of concerns and challenges that music educators often experience in the inclusive setting as a result of (a) lack of training in special education, (b) lack of planning time, (c) scheduling issues and (c) lack of experience using music therapy (MT) practices in the inclusive music setting (Spohn, 2008). Nevertheless, it is possible that because music educators teach a variety of learning and behavioral needs, the most challenging areas perceived in the inclusive setting comprise (a) developing social, (b) appropriate behavior, (c) communication and (d) academic skills in SWD. Therefore, because of a significant growth of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) mainstreamed into the least restrictive environment (LRE), music educators need to become knowledgeable and conscious of the complexities and heterogeneity of the population. The following topics will be discussed in the literature review; these include (a) challenges of music educators in the inclusive setting, (b) benefits of music therapy (MT), (c) impact of music participation on children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and (d) behavioral, social and language development of SWD.
Challenges of Music Educators in the Music Setting
The passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 mandated all students with disabilities (SWD) to be included in the general classroom and learn alongside non-disabled students. Because of the NCLB Act of 2001, significant increases of mainstreamed SWD participate in core subjects and special areas such as music (De L’Etoile, 2005; Scott, Jellison, Chappell & Standridge, 2007). Although, music educators concede that music is healing and beneficial for all students, SWD in particular, music educators face numerous challenges because of inclusion (Scott et al., 2007). According to the NCLB Act of 2001, music is a core subject; however, the federal mandate has affected music programs in a number of ways. For example, (a) music program budget cuts, (b) music curriculum is not aligned with special education practices, (c) music educators lack support and training in special education practices, (d) music instructional time is used to support core subject material and (e) music educators instruct double classes to provide core subject educators with common planning time (Adameck & Darrow, 2005; Spohn, 2008).
Consequently, music educators battle back-and-forth between the positive effect that music have on all students, and the challenges caused by inclusion. Nevertheless, becoming knowledgeable and equipped to work with SWD might increase the effectiveness of music instruction to all students (De L'Etoile, 2005). Becoming knowledgeable in special education practices might not always be enough, however,...