Special Learners Channel

Teaching Lessons to Special Learners Presented by Brian Wagner


Fun for Everyone: Teacher Tested Activities for All Learners in the Music Class presented by Vivian Gonzalez

This session will include hands on activities to teach music reading, theory and rhythm to all the students in the string ensemble class. In my fifteen years of public school teaching, I have found that the best way to teach a young student to read music is to take the very abstract concepts of music theory and put them right into the hands of the students. I use Play-Doh, toy cars, paddles, balloons and more to make music theory, rhythm training and music reading all-inclusive, and fun for everyone! Come join the fun!


Alphabet Soup: Laws and Best Practices for Inclusion in the Music Class presented by Vivian Gonzalez

This session will discuss the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Individual Education Plans (IEP),Response to Intervention (RTI), and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as well as how to engage parents, special needs teachers and school administrators to make inclusion successful for the all the students in the ensemble.


The All Inclusive String Ensemble: Activities and Exercises to Make Every Student Succeed in Strings presented by Vivian Gonzalez

Getting Fit for Strings Strength, flexibility and agility are key components to string instrument readiness and success, but many times studio and classroom teachers neglect to focus on these skills. In more than fifteen years of public school teaching and private studio teaching, I have developed specific exercises that target posture and left and right had issues, so that students can acquire new skills faster and with less frustration, tension and injury. These exercises have proven to be especially effective with special learners, who sometimes have fine and gross motor control issues. In this session, I will gladly share the exercises that my students do regularly in my classroom (elementary strings) and private studio (elementary through college) to enhance their overall playing ability.


Differentiating Assessment for ALL Learners: Music for Everyone! presented by Alice Hammel

Assessment of the progress of all students can cause concern when students with special needs do not perform at expected grade level standards. Through thoughtful, well-designed, and sequential assessment tools that measure progress in small increments, we can provide documentation of the musical literacy skills acquired by students who have not always been assessed in a music setting.

Socialization Skill development and student with Autism: Fun with a Purpose! presented by Alice Hammel

Students who have autism struggle with social skills and are often far behind their age-mates in their ability to interact with peers and adults. Music can be a place for socialization skills while musical skills are also developed. These experiences can be designed as inclusive, instructive, and really, really fun!


Autism and Behavior in the Music Classroom and Ensemble presented by Alice Hammel

Every behavior signals a need. Students with autism are often less able to directly state their needs in a neuro-typical way. Teachers sometimes perceive these expressions of need to be behavioral choice, or a want, on the part of the student. This session will focus on student behavior, teacher response to behavior, and ways to create a better understanding of the differences between need and want. We will also investigate the communication, cognition, and socialization challenges that cause students with autism to behave differently.

Divine Design: Rich Curriculum and Instruction that Support Special Learners in the Music Classroom by Greg Donnellan

This presentation illustrated how learning differences influence the perspective of the learner when meaningful participation in music is the goal, how the curriculum and instruction must be modified to support success and similarities between various student profiles and the impacts their learning difference has on their path toward musical learning.

 Divine Design Handout


“What do I do? Where do I start?” Special Learners in the Music Classroom, Part 1 of 2 by Scott Iseminger

The elementary and early childhood music teacher face certain challenges when children with special needs are included in the music class—but no need to panic if you lack experience or knowledge! Let’s turn those challenges into opportunities. Let’s keep music class fun for the students as well as the teacher. What is a child-centered philosophy in regards to including special learners? How do we promote an inclusive approach with active learning and worthwhile experiences (instead of exclusion by passive observing)? What kind of pre-planning do we need to do? How do we build a student-teacher relationship based on trust and safety? The presentation will answer those questions and provide practical suggestions how to adapt music instruction to reach little ones with disabilities pre-school through the elementary years. Stay tuned for Part 2 which provides “tried and true” adapted songs and music activities to enrich your students with exceptionalitie​s as well as their classmates.



“GREATEST HITS!” Adapted Songs and Activities for Special Learners, Part 2 of 2 by Scott Iseminger

You will be provided “tried and true” songs and music activities that are always a HIT for students with exceptionalitie​s, as well as their peers. This session will be a continuation of the first, with a strong focus on practical song and lesson activities, discussion of life from the learne
r’s perspective, and a guide for how to adapt activities with special needs in mind. Songs presented would be appropriate for the self-contained special education classroom. However, typical learners benefit from these activities as well. It is highly recommended that participants attend the first session before the second by not required.



Special Learners with SMART Program

SMART is excited to reflect on a unique partnership between the Music Education and
Music Therapy programs at Baldwin-Wallace College. This interactive session will allow you to engage in a number of activities that creatively combine music and literacy through world cultures. These activities stem from an inner-city program designed and implemented for over 100, 3rd and 4th grade student, by pre-service educators and student music therapists. Over the course of one week, these students were able to significantly raise literacy (fluency) rates, introduce fundamental musical concepts and connect children to quality literature.


Teaching Without Labels by Alice Hammel

Music educators sometimes struggle to apply strategies for students with special needs according to IDEA labels. A label-free approach brings a practical teacher and student-centered paradigm to the classroom. This webinar addresses five domains of learning that can be adapted for use with k-12 students in classrooms and ensembles.