band for kids with special needs
June 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm #37701
I’m looking for ideas, advice, suggestions for incorporating kids with special needs into a band setting. I’ve done it in the past with kids whose needs were more physical- making recordings for a saxophonist who was blind to learn by ear, adapting a trumpet for a student with a surgically reconstructed hand, etc. This year I’ve had a student with autism who is not in mainstream classes the rest of the day and has a one on one aid who plays one piece with the group each concert, just a steady beat, but he struggles to stay with the group. Am I allowed to say that the rest of the group struggles, too, to have someone playing a loud and unsteady beat on a drum and sometimes yelling in the middle of the piece? Next year there will be three kids in that situation. It doesn’t seem to be the best setting for these kids- I’d rather do a music class for their special ed class that I could completely gear towards their strengths and interests, but the parents are insisting that the kids play with the band. Does anyone have suggestions for ways to have them partipate that will be positive for both the kids with special needs and the rest of the band? Or suggestions for doing a music class for a group of kids with special needs? Are there resources out there? I don’t even know where to start, but I want to do something better than what I’m doing now. Thank you!June 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm #37702
I am going to have an autistic child in class next year. I plan on giving them their own pad to play on (not an actual instrument). The parents want them in for “socialization”, so the kid is in my class, but doesn’t make it so the rest of the class struggles. What if you had a lesson group with just those students- work with something their ability level. Work on steady beat.June 12, 2014 at 8:32 am #37704
This is where I’m running into problems: I did one on one lessons with the student all year. We worked on steady beat, patterns, call and response, it was a lot of fun and I think he made some improvements. The parents still want him to play with the band, even though it’s not really related to what we’re doing in lessons. The previous year, I was out on maternity leave, and my sub had him play a drum pad when he performed with the group, but the parents were furious that he wasn’t playing on a real drum. What’s best for the student in question and the other kids in the program don’t seem to match what the parents are demanding. Since I know there will be three kids in the same situation next year, I’d like to do some kind of group lessons/ percussion ensemble with them instead of having them play with the band, so that we can focus on the things they’re working on, or even doing something like that with their whole class. Are there any resources out there for that kind of thing? If the parents want him in band, even though I can’t tailor it towards his strengths and needs, is it appropriate for me to suggest this alternative?January 17, 2015 at 1:51 am #43863
In my 6th grade group I have a boy who is on the autism spectrum. I often times have him keep a steady beat on the drum. At this point in time, he is my only percussionist in the group. Last year though, when I had two other students in that section, I would give him a bass drum or cymbal part and give him a huge cue whenever it was his time to shine.
That being said, I’ve also read some articles about employing the use of iPads for students with special abilities. I’ve linked to one of them below. Keep us updated!March 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm #50024
I am very experienced with having special needs students in a music classroom and ensemble settings. If I can be of any help, please feel free to contact me. email@example.com I am more than happy to give you examples of what I do in my classroom or help problem solve any issues you might be having.January 21, 2016 at 9:10 pm #78327
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.March 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm #83724
In beginning band I rarely have any of my kids on “real” snare drums because my groups are small. If you have a multitude of percussionists you could have them all on drum pads and only one on a “real” drum at a time and rotate them. Than the special needs students get the experience, socialization and everything else the parents are looking for and for their one song they still get to play a “real” drum.
When I have had autistic students our rehearsals are before school so the parents had to come and be the para that the school would not provide before school. This allowed them to see and experience the ensemble themselves and understand that is was not me keeping them from playing a “real” drum, but so that the entire ensemble could be heard and not drowned out by the percussion section.
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