Inspiring DVD From Offers Educators New Insight on Including Handicapped Children in Music Programs

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Historically, handicapped children have been excluded from school music programs at every educational level – elementary, high school and university. "The Opportunity to Succeed” a DVD created for current and future band directors and music teachers, offers inspirational case studies filmed documentary-style on some of the demands, tactics, and lifelong benefits of creating an inclusionary environment for special needs students.

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Patrick Henry Hughes

Each child was afforded the three key elements of inclusion: accommodation, differentiation and innovation.

When band directors, teachers, administrators and parents establish new ways to accommodate handicapped and special needs children, the benefits can be widespread and long lasting. When a musically gifted handicapped child is accommodated, the benefits grow exponentially. This is the message in “The Opportunity to Succeed: Inclusion in Music Education,” a DVD from designed to inspire current and future band directors and music teachers to open their minds to inclusionary practices for special needs student musicians.

“The Opportunity to Succeed” profiles three musically gifted high school and college students with physical disabilities. All three eventually achieve inclusion in their schools’ traditional music programs, but only after their requests to play alongside their non-disabled peers are met with resistance or denied outright. Patrick Henry Hughes, a blind, wheelchair-dependent pianist and trumpeter earned national media attention with his inclusion in the University of Louisville’s marching band.

The DVD also features Kayla Freeman, a xylophone player who suffers from arthrogryposis, and Devin Robinson, a percussionist with leukodystrophy, both also wheelchair-dependent. All three student musicians were rejected by music educators throughout their lives before finally winning the battle to play. Teachers feared that the disabled musicians – all virtuosos – would hold back or otherwise interfere with the non-disabled musicians’ performances.

Through “The Opportunity to Succeed,” educators can witness real life examples of music directors who opened their minds to finding ways of including special needs musicians, all with positive outcomes.

Dr. Greg Byrne, a featured speaker in the DVD, is the University of Louisville Marching Band Director who proved that with simple modifications children like Patrick Henry Hughes can play alongside their non-disabled peers. Byrne’s conviction that including handicapped musicians in mainstream music programs can have a powerful effect on everyone involved.

“The Opportunity to Succeed” identifies and dissects one universal constant in each of the real-world examples profiled – each child was afforded the three key elements of inclusion: accommodation, differentiation and innovation. Band directors, teachers, administrators and parents featured in the film all found ways to implement these three key elements in order to achieve a successful outcome for the disabled student musicians.

“The Opportunity to Succeed” closely examines all three elements and how they factored individually into each student’s scenario. It also examines the legal aspects of special needs educational legislation, exploring the thin line drawn between the requirements of the law and the cooperation of the school. Perhaps most significantly, it compares the expectations and obligations music directors and educators are faced with daily by virtue of their profession.

“The Opportunity to Succeed: Inclusion in Music Education" is a 36+ minute DVD, subtitled for the hearing impaired. The film also provides testimonials from educators and disabled musicians on the subject of inclusion.

“The Opportunity to Succeed” is available in both 720P High Definition, and Letterboxed Standard Definition.

For more information, visit the website, call 630.847.5598, or Email info(at)BandDirectorVideos(dot)com


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Liz Ernst
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