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Enhanced Music Experience for Students with Special Needs

Ashleigh Bunten/Kalli Nowitzke/Lindsey Babicki/Kimberly Samson

Bates, Wylie, Mill Creek, Dexter High School

Early Childhood Special Education at Bates, Wylie Elementary School, Mill Creek Middle School and Dexter High School currently offer music classes including general music, orchestra, band and choir. The rigor of these programs at the elementary, intermediate, middle and high school levels is overly challenging and not accessible by our most impaired population. The required memorization skills, fine motor skills and organization skills necessary to succeed in these programs are beyond the scope of what our students with higher needs are able to successfully achieve.
The proposed music program, however, provides a platform with which we can meet students “where they are” and work to promote and encourage growth through active, hands-on, authentic experiences. Through this program, our most impaired population engages in singing, dancing, and playing instruments in an all inclusive environment. This program enhances student interaction with others and works to improve sustained focus and attention to tasks and the environment. Students are provided a sensory-rich experience that sets the tone for better physical, mental and emotional health, delivered by a board certified music therapist.


Students look forward to our music therapy sessions every week, and exhibit the lasting benefits following each session as well. Observed benefits have included more interaction with peers, more attempts at verbal communication, fine motor skill development, ability to attend for longer periods of time and reduced levels of stress and anxiety.

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