Teaching Students with Disabilities Virtually Had Many Challenges

Once again, if you have been following my blogs on the Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC website or our Facebook page, you are familiar with my dual role as a music therapist and music educator.  Having to conduct music therapy sessions virtually (and usually with only 1 – 4 patients at the most), I was fascinated to learn what challenges music educators had with trying to teach virtually and have a full classroom!  This article looks at what music educators learned during the COVID-19 virtual learning school year in 2020 – 2021.  

Draper’s article was written just prior to the vaccine rollout and discusses the importance of getting students with developmental disabilities vaccinated.  Knowing that these students often have other health issues, the focus, as with the shut down and remote learning, was to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Having personal experience with a student with disabilities, I know that students in special education often receive other therapies while in the education environment.  The author does not detail what therapies students might receive, but I know that music therapy can be a part of a student’s IEP if music is proven to enhance and benefit their education.  She stated that with the virtual platform, it was a real challenge for students with disabilities to receive certain therapies in the virtual environment.  I will say, that music therapists all over the US and abroad “stepped up to the plate,” so to speak, and offered services to their clients.  

She also outlined several considerations for music educators depending on the type of instruction being administered.  Synchronous verses asynchronous teaching can be both beneficial if multiple considerations are taken into account.  I feel her main emphasis was to encourage music educators to make sure that “… students with disabilities … are set up for success…” (p. 40) by communicating with other teachers, families and caregivers.  For some students, working on projects independently would be advantageous or possibly working in small groups with other students who are sensitive to those with disabilities are beneficial.  

I agree with Draper that virtual instruction is here to stay.  It might be used for a variety of reasons in school districts and with therapists who have successfully managed virtual sessions with their clients.  Even as we “open up” as a nation, there will continue to be reasons to teach or meet virtually.  Draper’s suggestions and strategies outlined in this short article can be useful for educators as well as therapists working with students and clients with disabilities.

For more information on music therapy, visit our website at www.centralohiomusictherapy.com or the American Music Therapy Association’s website at www.musictherapy.org.

Stephanie H. Morris, MM, MT-BC

Neurologic Music Therapy Fellow

Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC


Draper, Emily A. (2021).  “Teaching Music Remotely: Strategies for Students with Disabilities.  General Music Today 34(3), 39 – 41.  DOI: 10.1177/1048371321990662