Teaching Pedagogy

     In her book, Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs, Hammel states three important concepts in teaching pedagogy to support students with ASD and other special needs: accommodation, adaptation, and modification.[1] Accommodation means to provide arrangements so that a student can learn at the same level as the other students in the classroom. Preferential seating is an example of accommodation.  The use of assistive technology to help students with reading, writing, and other class activities are also effective accommodation for students with different physical and or cognitive challenges. Adaptation means to design and to use instructional tools and materials based on their learning needs. For example, the music teacher can provide lyrics printed in large font, music notations with color coding, and remove extra information from the music score for easier reading. Modification means to use different curricular goals in order for the child to achieve at the highest possible level. For example, when performing a song, the teacher may have the student play the first note of each measure initially, then slowly add additional notes when the student gains proficiency. The teacher may also consider scaling down the requirements by defining reasonably attainable goals for the student’s learning level.  

     Teacher training for teaching students with ASD and other learning disabilities is highly recommended for every music teacher. In recent years, researchers and educator have been discussing and promoting the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a set of principles that guides the design of curriculum to ensure equal access and effectiveness to learners of diverse learning styles.  The UDL framework started as curriculum building and teaching principles to be used for students with special needs. Researchers have shown that the UDL framework is equally effective for all learners. More and more states have adopted initiatives to incorporate UDL into their education standards for all students.[2] 


[1] Hammel, “Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs,” 83-85.

[2] “State And District Initiatives,” Students at the Center: Jobs for the Future, CAST, last accessed February 10, 2019. http://www.cast.org/w/page/jff/l17?2.