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Stories Around Campus

Special education students join Clark orchestra and band for holiday concert

Last month, Clark held their annual holiday concert. Playing alongside the orchestra and band were several new musicians from the special education department.

For the past few weeks, these students have been learning to play musical instruments through United Sound, a nationwide music education program that reaches out to special education students to give them them the gift of music. This is the first year that Clark has participated in the program.

“It sounded like a great opportunity for the regular ed kids to interface with the special education students,” says orchestra director Dr. Cushinery. “It looked like a win-win situation all the way around.”

Through United Sound, several volunteer students from band and orchestra spend about 45 minutes of each Wednesday teaching special ed students how to play instruments of their choice.

“I think what it does is it gives them a sense of belonging, and a sense of community that they haven’t experienced,” says Dr. Cushinery.

Two students learning to play musical instruments through the program are Xavier Hill and Antonio Curtis. Hill is learning to play the trombone and Curtis, the drums.

Both expressed that they enjoyed playing musical instruments and thought that their student teachers were funny and helpful. However, when asked if learning to play music made them feel happy, they were hesitant to respond, until they both agreed that it was hard but rewarding work for them.

“I like teaching them, especially that moment when it finally clicks,” says band student and student teacher Brandon Waters (11). “Maybe they weren’t getting the part, and then they finally get it. It’s really great to see it and you can see it on their faces too.”

The new musicians showcased their new skills in the holiday concert and will also perform at another concert later this semester.

“I think that the ability to teach someone music and to just spread music is a really beautiful thing,” says Waters. “Given these might be students who don’t have as much of an opportunity to play music, this program helps us spread joy through music.”