In my years of learning to be an educator, and specifically a music educator, I have struggled with how to teach to students with special needs. Despite taking several special education classes, I struggle with how I am going to apply these strategies I have learned into my music education classroom. With this in mind, I have noticed that several students in my observations of local music classes have disabilities, but are excelling. I did not notice any strategies being implemented by the teacher. So, I wanted to look up various strategies suggested by experts in the field.
The first paper that I discovered in my research is a study called “Conditions That Facilitate Music Learning Among Students With Special Needs: A Mixed-Methods Inquiry” by Kevin W. Gerrity, Ryan M. Hourigan, and Patrick W. Horton (2013). Their purpose was to “identify and define the conditions that facilitate learning in music among students with special needs.” They took a group of students with varying disabilities with varying severities. The most prevalent disability in this study was autism. The students were paired with a mentor teacher. The mentor teacher was an undergraduate student going into teaching, therapy, or performance. The mentor teachers were supervised by three professionals who had a combined 20 years in special education.
The study took place over ten weeks and confirmed strategies that I have already learned. Gerrity et al. (2013) learned that mixed methods teaching style was the best, but the mentors noted that repetition, student choice, and increased response time were the most effective. These three strategies have all been pushed in my special education classes. However, the mentor teachers included how they used those strategies, give me an idea of how to use these strategies in my classroom. One noted that once she took her time and repeated a rhythm multiple times “[the students] would finally echo you” (Gerrity et al. 2013).
This study was great for confirming the strategies I had already learned, but I found some flaws with how I could apply them in my setting. I hope to be in a secondary setting, but most of the students with disabilities were still in elementary school. There is less time in a middle school or high school setting for exploration of musical instruments, which limits student choice to the instrument they have already chosen in elementary school (unless they feel they can undertake the task of learning a completely new instrument). Repetition is something that is already built in to any musician. Without repeatedly playing a piece, one cannot expect to be able to play it with any sort of artistry. Finally, increased response time can be easily built into any lesson, but it is finding just the right amount of time to allow students to catch up to their peers without their peers getting annoyed.
The next resource I found was “Five Strategies for Teaching Students With Disabilities in Band/Orchestra” By Christine Lapka (Oct....