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Faculty Mentors

Dr. Tina Holmes-Davis

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to provide some ideas, resources, and support for accommodating students with disabilities in music classes, including performing ensembles. First, we provide an overview of special education in America with a particular emphasis on music education. Next, we describe current inclusion practices that are used within the music classroom. Finally, we provide information for three groups of people involved in the music education of learners with special needs: learners, parents, and music teachers. It is hoped that this resource will be useful in making it possible to include students of all types in American music education programs.

Music teachers may struggle to accommodate learners who have poor motor skill control or underdeveloped social skills. In a music classroom, teachers can select appropriate music, modify student parts, or alter performance tasks so that all students are successful at some level. In such cases, audiences are unable to tell whether a student is performing an altered part so each student can contribute at their own level. Inclusive classrooms also allow for social development for students with disabilities, because they are surrounded by a diversity of students and have more opportunities to make friends. Unlike in core subjects or other disciplines where students work alone, the music classroom is a place for collaboration, which means that students have to work together and accept each other. This can help students with social disabilities expand and improve their social skills. The core ideas of this resource coincide with the need to accommodate all students in the classroom and to advocate for the inclusion of students with disabilities.

 

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