Music Therapy and Special Education


Music therapy is “a creative art therapy that crosses multiple areas of treatment and can be effective in facilitating development in numerous areas of children’s functioning” (Pellitteri); it also “aims to promote both communication and relationships.” (Pienaar, p. 36)

How is it Used

Music therapy can be used to help children communicate, build speech and language skills, and also help develop motor skills through playing instruments.

Songs can also be used for educational purposes, like helping children remember their ABC's with the alphabet song, or learn how to categorize things with songs about colors or farm animals.

It also helps with social interactions and builds inclusion.  Music therapy “can help to increase basic social perception in activities” such as turn taking when an instrument is passed around the class, or It can also be used with students who have special needs and those who do not. “The music group experience can be enjoyed by students not needing special education and therefore can be used as a so-called normalizing mainstream activity.” (Pellitteri)

IEP Goal


Pellitteri, John. (2000). The Consultant’s Corner: “Music Therapy in the Special Education Setting.” Journal of Educational & Psychological Consultation, 11 (3/4), 379-391.

Pienaar, Dorothea. (2012). Music Therapy for Children with Down Syndrome: Perceptions of Caregivers in a Special School Setting. Kairaranga, 55 (1), 36-43.

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