Music Therapy in Special Education: Teacher and Student Reports
Besides the data, some of the best evidence of the impact of music therapy in the special needs classroom comes from teacher and student reports. Here is a sample of both from Utah Schools.
We’ve worked with a variety of charter & private schools, as well as state funded programs providing music therapy for students with special needs. These needs range from challenges with communication, to social skills, academic development, and even environmental awareness for students who are Deaf and Blind.
Here is what students and teachers have to say.
One of our main goals when bringing music therapy to classrooms is to empower teachers with skills to incorporate music into learning throughout the week. We do this through direct instruction as well as written ideas or links to our Harmony Helps resource.
100% of teachers report that they have learned new techniques for incorporating music into their classrooms as a result of our services. We like to consider that a pretty good success rate!
When we ask teachers about their increase of using music in the classroom from the start of the year to the end, they report an average increase of 21%. This increase means that students are receiving more music based instruction, which of course enhances their learning and increases their chances of success in the academic environment.
We listed specific areas of learning and development and asked teachers what gains they saw in their students as a result of music therapy. Here’s what they said:
And finally, we also ask teachers for direct feedback about music therapy itself and its impact on their students.
Here’s what they have to say:
“There is no questions about its’ [music therapy] place in USDB’s classroom.” —Mrs. Ostergard
“Our students work with the music therapy on the resonance board in our classroom. the students can see the instrument, hear the music, and feel the vibrations. as all of the students are deaf/blind this makes the music time a great sensory experience for everyone.” –Mrs. Hansen
“Music Therapy’s place in our classroom is indispensable, and I deeply wish that funding could be secured so that (Music Therapists) could come to spend time with these children more than twice a month. Their needs are staggering and their (the Music Therapist’s) time with us is so short.” —Mrs. Ostergard
“We had a visiting U of U professor that would like to use the video between the Music Therapist and a blind student of mine. She was really impressed how her strategies would invite the student to participate when she wasn’t really in to it.” –Mrs Azevedo
“This approach has truly encouraged my students to continue making more and more sounds to communicate throughout the day.” —Mrs. Ostergard
“It is a time we all, students and staff, look forward to. The students are excited when they know it is time for music therapy and are willing to work on their goals to finish in time!” –Mrs. Munns
“Music therapy is unique to the services these students are receiving because we are able to connect them with the “outside world” on a personal level using music. Whether it be feeling the beat of the drum to engage with their peers during active instrument play or reaching out to strum the guitar while their name is sung; each session is catered to the individuals present and can reach a student in ways that non-music related interventions cannot.” –Cassie Bringhurst, MT-BC (Music Therapist)
“Student is seemingly wanting to only answer these tasks when the MT comes and sings her special songs made just for my students. C is stubborn to show us what he knows about the names of his body parts–but when the MT comes in he is happy and willing to ‘touch his head’. I need her to come back more!”–Mrs. Ostergard
“I love the idea of singing songs that have no ‘words’ but use the same sounds the student’s make!”–Mrs. Ostergard
“We do use music more than at the beginning of the year. I’ve found more math songs beyond multiplication, and we have songs for learning language concepts, such as antonyms.” –Miss Angie
“We start math with a multiplication mashup. When we learn a new concept in science we find a song to help teach them.” –Mrs. Jandy
“We use music all day!” Started using music to support emotional regulation from Pre to Post. Also uses music now for math, language arts, concert, & movement (new).–Mrs. Karlee
Started using music to teach phone #, counting, days of week, months of year, lots of sensory uses and singing directions. –Mrs. Katie
Started using music to gain student’s attention, for sensory breaks, & counting in addition to what was implemented at beginning of year.–Mrs. Megan
Started using music as reinforcement and to gain student attention, and to remember and learn new topics. Went from using it weekly to daily. –Mrs. Stephany
The vast majority of students we work with are unable to articulate their own ideas, however we do our best to obtain their feedback about music therapy. Here’s what they have to say.
First, we did a pre and post assessment from the student’s perspective of the impact of music on learning, as well as their teacher’s use of music. We saw gains in all three areas, including student’s reporting that music
- Helps students learn
- Helps students remember lessons
- Teachers are using more music as a result of music therapy services
What did you enjoy about music therapy this year?
“Loved playing instruments fast and slow”
“Liked instruments and how we got to play them and play the guitar.”
“It was fun.”
“It was beautiful.”
What is your favorite thing to do in music therapy?
“Playing the guitar.”
“Seeing friends that are happy.
“Singing “Let it Go”
“Playing a guitar.”
“Sing the Fireworks song.”
“Playing the different instruments.”
Interested to see the impact music therapy can have in your special education setting? Contact us to set up a free trial session or in-service to learn more!