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The lesson plan for the workshops was developed in consultation with an occupational therapist, behavioural therapist and special educator. Their recommendations ensure that participants have all the breaks and stimulation they need to be as engaged as possible throughout, and to have the structure and learning support that is so essential in providing an appropriate learning environment.
The first workshop begins by helping the students get used to a new environment, to their peers and to the instructor. We learn each other’s names with the help of our “Welcome Song”. This helps get everyone settled, and signals that the session is starting.
Next, the first featured instrument of the workshop is introduced. This is a creative and flexible experience depending on the capabilities of the students. I explain the basics about the instrument, the range, sound production and the different parts of the instrument including the mouthpiece, and then I demonstrate how to play. After that, the participants all try the instrument one by one.
Then we have a movement or creative activity, which can take place any time during the workshop. It can be placed between the two featured instruments if it seems that the students need more or less stimulation at that time. Flexibility is so important while working with special needs populations.
We end each workshop with a goodbye song. This signals that the workshop is ending and gives structure to the lesson, which is so important when working with special needs populations.