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Fostering Musical Engagement for the Special Needs Community

The Music Circle

This guidebook and video series provides educators, musicians and administrators with guidelines and resources to develop or enhance music learning and concert opportunities for people with special needs.

Learn more about the Music Circle for your school or organization.

Download the Music Circle Guidebook for detailed instructions and resource information.

Teaching Strategies

Putting together a successful learning experience for special needs populations requires very purposeful planning, but there are simple strategies that go a long way. First, the environment needs to be comfortable. Try to have an enclosed space with limited distractions, comfortable seating, and arrange the participants in a semi circle to set up engagement.  Balance between structure and flexibility is essential. The workshops are very carefully structured, but we also need to follow the lead of the participant when necessary.

At times we need to follow the lead of the student and that is where student-led learning comes in.

Modeling, or learning by imitation should always be the first instructional strategy used.  One can then move to more supportive strategies if the participant isn’t able to complete the task.

If modeling or verbal prompts aren’t quite doing the trick, you can move on to hand-over-hand support. This is putting your hand on theirs to help guide the participant to complete a task