Strike a chord: music therapy as a related service as experienced by a key stakeholders




Shandy, Melonie Q.


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Music therapy is a related service not easily measured in public schools as an intervention for students with disabilities (Booth, 2004). The fact that music therapy is not a required related service explains why it is not more widely used to help students with disabilities master goals written as part of an Individual Education Plan. A review of the literature describes how music therapy has been used in clinical as well as educational settings. The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of using music therapy as an intervention to assist with the mastery of academic, social, and language/communication goals as reported by key stakeholders. Another goal of this study was to describe the interventions used to assist with the mastery of non-music goals. The stakeholders and participants in this study include a music therapist working in a school district in south Texas, three parents of students with disabilities who are or have received music therapy as a related service, and three administrators working as either a principal or assistant principal in an elementary, middle, or high school campus where music therapy is routinely used directly or on a consultative basis. Two theoretical frameworks informing this study are Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Stetsenko’s transformative activist stance. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is characterized by five basic human needs: physiological, safety, love/affection, self-esteem, and self-actualization (Maslow, 1943; Marsh 1978). Transformative activist stance recognizes “unique individual contributions” as they exist to build a foundation for “both identity and learning” (Vianna & Stetsenko, 2011, p. 317).
The findings of this study are presented in themes that emerged through data analysis and are explored and represented in a metaphoric art-based portrayal. Each stakeholder’s experience added depth and meaning to the guiding questions of this study. This study is important to the practice of music therapy as a related service for students with disabilities who could possibly benefit from the service. The experiences of the stakeholders including parents and administrators can serve to advance the practice of music therapy for students with disabilities.



administrators and special education, advocates of music therapy, music therapy, music therapy as a related service, parents and related services, related services



Attribution 3.0 United States, This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used should be fully credited with its source. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Permission for publication of this material, in part or in full, must be secured with the author and/or publisher.