Special needs kids learn, play music


Daniel Moreira

Band students Zack Hodgson, Senior, and Mikayla Boyd, Sophomore, teach drumming for Breana Macdonald, Senior.

Tristan Allen, Reporter

The band program in September started a chapter for United Sound, an organization that provides music education to students with special needs.

Four new musicians joined the program and are being taught by volunteers from the band program to play a brass, woodwind or percussion instrument. The new musicians heard about the opportunity to learn music via letters sent out beforehand to people who met certain criteria United Sound had for their new musicians

These new musicians will play one song with the Wind Ensemble during the winter concert in December and again in the May concert.

“I go to a camp in Indiana, and there was a program about it there. [The United Sound organization] struck a chord with me,” said Chad Coughlin, band director, about why he started the local chapter. The chapter is planned to continue next year.

United Sound provides a specially modified musical method book, featuring musical notes replaced with pictures to assist the new musicians with learning how to read and play music.

Twelve volunteers from the band program are teaching the new musicians how to read the music they will perform at the concert in December and play the instruments they selected. Twelve volunteers were required to keep a 3-1 ratio between volunteers and new musicians.

Alaina Coughlin, senior, is serving as the chapter president. The United Sound organization stays in constant touch through email.

“It feels nice to help people who finally have the chance to play an instrument,” Flynn Hemenway, senior, said about the experience he acquired volunteering for the program. Hemenway feels after helping out that the new musicians are enjoying this oppurtunity.

Normally, the families of the new musicians would either rent or buy an instrument for their new musicians, but the band program has enough instruments for the new musicians to play. In the circumstance the school cannot or will not provide instruments, the organization will cover the cost of needed instruments.

United Sound does not charge the school or the band program for any expense, but does ask that the band program hold a fundraiser for the organization’s sake.

The organization has the mission of “providing musical performance experiences for students with special needs through peer mentorship.”

In the 2015-2016 school year, United Sound served 120 new musicians nationwide with help from 360 student volunteers. Nationwide, these student volunteers devoted 9,360 volunteer hours.

They had 15 chapters throughout seven states; 78 percent of the chapters were band, and 22 percent of the chapters were orchestra. The programs held a combined 33 performances attended by an estimated 26,600 people.