Adapted Lessons

When teaching music lessons to those with special needs, it is important to be able to adapt to each of their individual needs and to be understanding of the ways they learn best.  Here are some tips for teaching adapted music lessons:

  • Put yourself in their shoes, learn as much as you can about their diagnosis so that you can think like they do
  • Be precise and detailed in your instructions, some students can take things very literally and do not generalize, so be careful of idioms or terms that could be confusing
  • Use a routine with order and repetition, you can list out what you are going to do in the session
  • Be consistent, with the way they do things at home, with what is in their IEPs, etc and if you are preparing for a recital then you may need to help prepare them for several weeks in advance.  The more they feel comfortable, the less you will have acting out behaviors
  • Adapt and be flexible, you may need to work on left and right hand with them first on a drum or by throwing balls, they may need breaks if they are having a melt down
  • Set expectations, make sure you are setting high enough expectations, have them perform in the same recital as typical students
  • Have patience
  • Have compassion
  • Have a sense of humor, find ways to make lessons fun for them

Mary Jane

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