International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 9 Number 9

June 29, 2008

The Heart of the Matter:
Composing Music with an Adolescent with Special Needs

Adam Patrick Bell
Toronto, Canada
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

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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