Reply To: band for kids with special needs

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I have had a student with special needs in our orchestra program for two years and I think the important thing with her is to always be reading her response level and adapting. Our goal is always to keep her motivated and participating at the level of the class as much as possible, but as soon as the music becomes ever so slightly above her level, she shuts down and cries. What has helped her tremendously is to always pair her up with someone I think will benefit her both socially and musically. Often my words of encouragement don’t go nearly as far as her stand partner, and it instills some comradery in the group.

In regards to the parent, it might be important to either be clear with the parents what your plan is before the concert, or to simply have them perform on the snare drum. The second option might cause a raucous at the concert, but it could be an opportunity to show the parents that while you would love to have every student performing at the same level, some accommodations should be made in order to make the student successful. I can also understand why the parent would be confused, having special needs is isolating enough, and to them it looks like you are isolating them more by not allowing the student to perform on a real drum.