The Heart of the Matter:
Adam Patrick Bell
Composing Music with an Adolescent with Special Needs
Citation: Bell, A. P. (2008). The heart of the matter: Composing music with an adolescent with special needs. International Journal of
Education & the Arts, 9(9). Retrieved [date] from http://www.ijea.org/v9n9/.
As a support worker for adolescents with special needs, I have found that they have few
opportunities to play music. While previous research emphasizes that students with special
needs can enjoy music in multiple capacities, little has been written about their ability
to play, improvise, or compose. I employed a qualitative approach for this case study in
which a 17-year-old male with Down syndrome attended two 40-minute music sessions a week
over the course of three months with me as the researcher and musical accompanist. Video
was used to document the teacher-learner experience as the participant explored collaborative
improvising and computer-based recording. General suggestions are made for supporting
adolescents with special needs in music.
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