Lead Therapist: Megan Rhoden, MT-BC
Music therapy uses music to help students with disabilities gain nonmusical knowledge and skills essential to their education. Northside Independent School District has been providing music therapy services to students in special education since 1979 in a variety of ways. Individual students may receive service for a particular IEP (Individual Education Program) goal, group music therapy may be provided to particular classrooms or programs, and music educators may be assisted with the inclusion process for students with disabilities.
Carefully structured and specifically designed music activities provide techniques and strategies that support, enrich, and enhance students' educational programming, and aid them in the achievement of IEP goals. Activities such as songs, dance and movement, and/or instrument and rhythm activities are developed to address the unique and varied needs of individual learners. Through the use of these purposeful, goal-directed music activities students can derive maximum benefit from their educational program. Music therapy allows for the presentation of varied modes of instruction to serve the diverse learning styles of students. It also provides multiple opportunities and formats in which students can learn and demonstrate knowledge, mastery, and generalization of skills.
As a related service, music therapy provides a comprehensive range of services necessary to enable students to benefit and participate in their educational program. Services are provided primarily in an integrative programming model. The techniques and strategies designed by the music therapist are to be implemented in the natural school environment. The integrative model also facilitates student inclusion. Music therapy provides supplementary educational support to students through a collaborative team model as well. Collaboration between the music therapist and other educational and support staff results in the best possible way to address students' educational needs, helping them to group, sequence, and generalize skills in naturally occurring situations.
Provision of music therapy services is accomplished through a variety of ways including direct services, consultation, and staff development and training. Music therapy services may include:
- assisting educational staff with the development and implementation of music activities appropriate to the student's educational program and/or IEP
- developing and/or providing special materials
- teaching/training staff and students how to use activities, equipment and materials
- recommending modifications and adaptations, as necessary
- providing staff development and training to district personnel regarding the use of music to enhance educational programs for students with special needs
participation in parent conferences
A music therapist earns a degree in Music Therapy from a university accredited by the American Music Therapy Association. University coursework is followed by a six-month internship; a board examination is taken and, if passed, national certification status is achieved. NISD music therapy program staff is highly trained and experienced, having board certification through the national certifying agency for music therapists.
DETERMINING EDUCATIONAL NEED FOR MUSIC THERAPY SERVICES:
Students who qualify for special education services may be referred for music therapy screening to determine if there is an educational need for music therapy services. A referral would be made if the student has demonstrated overt responses to music in relation to the educational program or IEP goals. Music therapy screening may indicate that a comprehensive assessment is needed to identify specific and unique needs of the student, as well as the specific IEP goals that can be addressed through music therapy techniques and strategies.
The assessment process may include informal assessment, observation of the student in different environments in which the student experiences music, and gathering information from school records, educational staff and family members, and medical personnel. Assessment results are reported to the ARD committee, and necessity and frequency of service is recommended by the therapist after the student IEP and program placement have been determined; this is indicated in the student's IEP. If a student is found to have educational need of music therapy, service will be provided in a manner that best addresses student need as determined by the assessment. If a student is found not to be in need of services, that finding will not affect in any way the other music experiences the student is already receiving on campus. When the student no longer requires music therapy services, the ARD committee will discontinue services based on a recommendation from the therapist.
The assessment determines what specific music therapy intervention may impact student achievement of IEP goals. Determination of educational need for music therapy services is based upon the student's overt response to music/music activities. Responses to music may include increased focus, attention, muscle tone, affect, vocalization, memory, and/or socialization. A student may be motivated to reach out and manipulate objects in his/her environment, or be motivated to interact with others through music activities. Services will be provided if the student responds to or is motivated by music/music activities to such a degree that the addition of music therapy services to the ongoing educational program can provide significant assistance to student achievement of specific IEP goals. Services will be provided if deemed necessary for the student to benefit from special education instruction.
Students who demonstrate educational need for music therapy services receive those services within the educational setting in a variety of ways (such as large and small group sessions as well as 1:1) to provide maximum support for attaining educational objectives. Students seen in a group are assembled according to classroom placement, are close in chronological age and functioning levels, and have similar educational needs. Students who receive services in a group are provided with individual learning opportunities, allowing for the optimal functioning of each student. Music therapy strategies are selected to reinforce the collective goals and objectives of the students in each class. Group music therapy sessions afford students opportunities for peer interaction, working cooperatively as a group to accomplish a task, and provide models and challenge to fully develop their capabilities. As services are provided in a collaborative team model, the music therapist and the teaching and/or support staff work together to develop and implement activities that ensure integration of the educational curriculum and IEP goals. Activities are chosen which are well suited to group participation and interaction, allowing for each student to perform at an appropriate level. Adaptation and modification of goals and activities is an ongoing process dependent upon student need, interweaving individual objectives with group goals; educational staff provides a hierarchy of prompts and assistance, as well as modification for students as needed.
THE PURPOSE OF THE NISD MUSIC THERAPY PROGRAM:
- To provide significant assistance to student achievement of IEP goals and educational program.
To provide educationally related support services to students, instructional and support staff, and administrators.