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Adaptive Music: Music as an Opportunity for Students to Succeed


by Chelsea Perrine

(65 pages)

This is an eBook for digital download. 

In this book, you will find research to support a well-rounded and focused education for music students with special needs, templates for goal tracking and lesson planning, and suggestions for lessons and units for your students. This adaptive music curriculum is geared towards secondary-level students.

This is the second publication in the Kent State Curriculum Series.


This book is a comprehensive adaptive music curriculum for 9-12 grade learners.

“All students should be given the opportunity to experience music in a way that is authentic to their daily lives, with in-depth guidance for further understanding. Music is an opportunity for students to succeed when they may not be able to find success in other areas, because connections are made that help make sense of the world and serve to advance cognitive skills (Adamek & Darrow, 2005; Blair & McCord, 2015; Comte, 2009; Darrow, 2014; Darrow & Segal, 2015; MacLean 2008; Malley, 2013).”

This book results from a class with no curriculum- the Adaptive Music class. Students from a self-contained special needs high school class were shuffled into my classroom on the first day of school during fifth period after lunch. I was genuinely shocked as I had no previous experience teaching a high school adaptive music class before. What should I teach these kids? What is the goal? Where do I start?

I started out teaching the students basic rhythm, recorder, children’s songs, watching musicals, and learning about the instrument families. It was clear after the first semester that the students wanted more and were capable of more than I was giving them. To provide them with an engaging and age-appropriate education, I started researching. I could not find a curriculum for high school students with special needs for music. I started going to conferences like the Special Needs Pre-Conference at NAfME by Adamek and Darrow in 2014 and reading many books. I delved into my students’ Individualized Education Plans to look for goals and strengths I could focus on and integrate.

The broad result is the curriculum in this book. It was difficult to leave the curriculum broad enough to be flexible and useful in other teachers’ individual circumstances, but specific enough to be helpful for teachers, like me, who didn’t know where to start. In this book you will find research to support a well-rounded education for students with special needs, templates for goal tracking, lesson planning and more, and suggestions for lesson and unit ideas for your students.

This is the second publication in the Kent State Curriculum Series.


Chelsea Perrine

About the Author

Chelsea Perrine currently resides in Springfield, Missouri with her husband, Michael, and son, Brooks. Mrs. Perrine has been an educator for over ten years and currently teaches music for grades 6-12 at Missouri Virtual Academy. She has previously taught at Mt. Vernon School District, Mt. Vernon, MO, Waynesville School District, Waynesville, and Laclede Co. R1 School District, Conway MO. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Missouri Southern State University where she studied piano, french horn and voice as an education major. Mrs. Perrine is a proud alumnus of the Kent State Masters in Music Education program, the program which made this book possible. She is also pursuing her second Masters degree in Online Education at Southern New Hampshire State University. Learn more about Chelsea here—>


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