When a student with special needs becomes transitions into classes with the regular student population, there are many anxieties they bring with them that are often overlooked. One of the beautiful things about music education is that music class offers students a safe space to emotionally and physically enjoy the arts. This often gets lost in the speed of the school day but when I stop to think specifically about the positives, I think about how the student WITHOUT special needs is benefiting from these new peer-to-peer relationships. In her book "I Don't Want to Go!", Delores Connors is addressing those anxieties through the story of a child who is going to the special education classroom for their first time.
I am fortunate to have had a positive experience with special education in public schools. Today there are a lot of inclusive programs. Special education students are blending more into the mainstream curriculum, and that is wonderful.
Music and the arts in general have always been a stable space for special education students to feel welcomed, especially the teachers. They are seen by their peers as equals and sometimes stand out as exceptional for their talents. No one is ever placed in special education because of struggles with music. I have witnessed many students whose musical aptitudes gained them recognition and respect from their peers.
Music is universal. Everyone starts out on the same playing field. All students, not only special education students, are able to express themselves in ways that cannot in a traditional classroom. The interdisciplinary possibilities of music instruction are enormous, and all students, including special education students, benefit greatly from a vibrant music program.