Happy Graduation, C: My experience with special education in musical ensembles

While student teaching, I met a wide variety of students from future music educators to students in Special Education. I’ve already written about one of those students in this post, and I’ve been thinking about another student, who I will refer to as C, a lot in the last few weeks.

C was in the Women’s Chorus at my second student teaching placement. She is a high school senior graduating in May. A very kind student who gave every ounce of effort she had in every rehearsal. C is wheel-chair bound and has limited muscle and breathing control. During most rehearsals, her para would write down the words to the piece of music we were working with and sometimes sing along.

C would rarely sing in rehearsal, but would sing out with joy at concert time. My first day of student teaching there was a concert day for the choir, and I noticed C’s voice and effort immediately.

As I worked with C and the other young ladies of the Women’s Chorus, I saw a great deal of progress in all the students. But C began to sing more often, trying her best to initiate each line with the rest of the choir, even if she was not able to sustain singing or match pitch.

On my last day of teaching, I sat with C and her Para, J, for a while and chatted about the time I had spent at the school. C will graduate from high school about when I will graduate from college.

Few students have impacted me and my outlook on teaching like this one girl with a big heart, and few students have convinced me of the vital role of special education in schools.

Not only did C have the awesome experience of learning and performing music with the choir, but the rest of the choir interacted with C on a daily basis. Furthermore, my experience in that classroom changed the way I teach and the way I interact with students at all ability levels.

I have an incredible opportunity as a music teacher to give students opportunities that their status in life, be it economic, academic, or even physical, often limit. All students involved (especially the student teacher) were edified and bettered by her presence in the classroom. Much could be said about inclusion/mainstreaming in our nations classrooms, but I will always strive to welcome students of all kinds into my ensembles and classrooms that they might discover this strange thing called music.

So, happy graduation C! Good luck with your last semester of high school, and I hope that you will find as much joy in life as you did on that stage during the winter concert.

One thought on “Happy Graduation, C: My experience with special education in musical ensembles

  1. Pingback: Infographic: The Psychology of Music | James Patrick Jensen

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