Lived experiences of secondary instrumental music teachers who teach students with learning disabilities
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Very little research is published on teaching music to students with learning disabilities. Nevertheless, federal law mandates that instruction of such students take place in all public schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of four secondary instrumental music teachers who teach five students with learning disabilities. This study looked at the interactions between teachers and these students and examined how their experiences informed teaching practices. Phenomenological in design, this study included data collected from journals, as well as interviews, relevant artifacts, and direct observations of the teachers. My goal was to provide data for music teacher training programs and for these teachers to help each class of their students educate students with learning disabilities. Results showed that the teachers were aware of the needs of students with learning disabilities. Teachers became frustrated with occurrences of undisclosed diagnoses of such students and those with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and that they had received little guidance from Individualized Education Programs or other documents designed to inform teachers about accommodations for those with disabilities. Successful accommodations depended on the experience or training of the teachers and the severity of the disability, as well as how much the students had previously learned to cope with their learning disabilities. Students were rarely aware of specific interventions or adaptations teachers had made to accommodate a disability. Instructors employed general teaching techniques that aligned with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Pedagogical information given in this study would benefit music education and add more data to the sparse amount of work being done on teaching instrumental music to students with learning disabilities.
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