I’m a 21 year old that knows nothing about music! I’m an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri!
“The question,” she continues, “is if a 21 year old would be able to take the guitar lessons I’m taking without being in pain.” She continues, “When you’re studying music with a disability, you cannot teach them. You can only give them an introduction.”
The student, who asked not to be identified because she says she is not part of this program, adds that she wants to stay in her department, where her guitar is always in excellent condition and where she would be able to learn every week. She cites the number of students with disabilities who have been able to achieve this level of comfort with the instrument. She also suggests that the program might create an atmosphere where students with disabilities can feel less isolated, as opposed to being bullied, as is sometimes the case in most other schools.
“I have friends and family members with disabilities,” she continues, “I can’t live my life with only my disability as an excuse.”
The student suggests that if we are going to create a safe learning environment, we must allow students with disabilities to learn as many music techniques as possible.
The University of Missouri has yet to respond to a request for further comment.
Update: A phone call to Michael Thomas, manager of Student Affairs and Special Education for the College of Arts & Sciences confirmed that the University is actively implementing the student suggestion to incorporate guitar lessons in the new curriculum for students with a disability.
Thomas says that after consulting with the dean and faculty and student members, “the plan is to offer a two-year guitar program over the summer when we know there will be a much lower student body than at the start.”
Tommy Wright, coordinator of Special Education for the College of Arts & Sciences, says the University is considering offering these lessons to all students, both students and others who require music instruction. The question is whether the University would continue, even in a partial form, even if there was no physical disability for it to be offered.
“There’s a reason that the University offers the music department a disability-inclusive mandate,” says Wright. “It allows us to offer all students who come in a great experience at the special education department a high-quality student-centered experience for music.”
When asked for clarification on whether students with disabilities would still continue to come into music with a disability to be mentored, Wright
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