This is part of a series of posts from nominees for our LifeChanger of the Year educator recognition program. We meet scores of fascinating LifeChangers every year who have interesting perspectives to share about children, education and life.
As a musician, artist and therapist, I have a unique outlook on the place of music in education and in life. George Gershwin said, “True music reﬂects the people and the me.” Music experiences provide opportunities for success, self-expression and relationships with others and the world.
Educating students with profound intellectual and physical disabilities requires adaptation, creativity and ﬂexibility. At Genesee Intermediate School District’s Marion D. Crouse Instructional Center, it is my honor to provide group music therapy to all 235 students, ages 3 through 26; and individual music therapy driven by the individual education planning process for those students who clearly need music support and interventions to beneﬁt from their education. My training as a music therapist and over 25 years in the ﬁeld have oﬀered perspective and insight into the invaluable role of music in the lives of my students and music’s important role in school.
Music experiences create opportunities for success regardless of physical or intellectual challenges. Feelings of accomplishment engendered through the creative process enhance an individual’s self-esteem and sense of productivity. The creative process also provides an avenue to tap previously dormant emotional and communicative expression. These expressions are personally enriching and rewarding. They also can provide clues for understanding the whole person that may not be evident or possible through traditional verbal means. For individuals with special needs, the creative process supports positive interaction with peers and the community. These interactions can help reduce negative stereotypes about persons with disabilities, and foster a more tolerant attitude in the community.
In the educational environment, music experiences provide impetus for learning. They contextualize theoretical and abstract concepts into sensory experiences. They help students generalize skills learned to new environments. Above all, music beckons us to express the inexpressible, invites us to expand our understanding of one another, and calls us to ﬁll the uniquely human needs for expression, communication, and insight into self, others and the world around us.Learn more about Carolyn Vierkorn on her LifeChanger of the Year profile.