The class “MUSIC FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL LEARNER” was designed to meet the unique teacher training needs of music educators as they work to become better teachers of students with special needs. The class meets yearly in the fall and over the years has established unique partnerships with institutions that assist individuals of all ages that require special education services. For over a decade, students in MUS 4460 spent a day shadowing a team of music therapists at the Gretchen Everhart School for Exceptional Learners. The students participated in the learning experience, helping students with their music tasks. For the past several years, we have partnered with the local school system to assist with any pre-K and Kindergarten students with special needs.

In the fall of 2009, a group of pediatricians at the Charles Henderson Child Health Center in Troy, Alabama, approached us about possibly developing a parent packet that could be given to the parents of their children patients that have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. From this, a written packet of songs and activities was developed and presented in December of 2009. The pediatricians then asked if it was possible to include an audio/visual component to assist the clients/parents in the implementation of the activities in the packet. Seeing this as an excellent way to combine theory, practice, to enhance the pre-service students’ technology skills and to make a difference in the community, the class of Fall 2010 designed the website MADE for Autism. As we watched the local community expand its educational efforts to include the Pre-K population, the website was expanded in 2011 to include school readiness activities and MAADE for kids (Music Adaptive Activities Developed for Everyone) became a reality.

It is our hope that MAADE can be maintained and expanded and that it will indeed make a difference in the care and teaching of kids with special needs and with the early childhood population. The students in “Music for the Exceptional Learner” have long been convinced of the power of music in both educational and therapeutic settings and have watched students with special needs respond well to music and musical activities. I’m sure that once you have toured the website, you will see their passion for using music to reach and teach all children.


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