by Ann Conolly with Janet Soller and Karen Wallace
Published by: Alpha Major, 2011
Music Making a Difference: Students with Learning Challenges
Publication: American Music Teacher (Magazine/Journal)
Date: February 1, 2014
Publisher: Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Volume: 63 Issue: 4 Page: 55(2)
"Drawing on her experience as a learning disabilities specialist, Ann Conolly provides a wealth of information and insight into the struggles and challenges facing children with learning difficulties. She has created a useful reference manual for music teachers dealing with learning-challenged students, in collaboration with music educators Soller and Wallace.
The authors divide the book into four major sections. In the first two sections, they provide a broad overview of learning differences and the characteristics of major learning issues such as dyslexia and sensory integration disorder. The final two sections focus on communicating the benefits of music instruction, interviewing prospective students and preparing for students with learning challenges. Throughout the sections, quick summaries, lists or ideas are included beside the text in colored boxes. Additionally, ample space is available for personal note taking. Each section concludes with possible book club discussion questions for music educators groups that may consider using this manual as part of their activities.
The authors include several tables throughout the book listing various characteristics of a particular learning challenge. They also incorporate examples of how that trait would manifest itself during a music lesson and suggestions on how to help the student work through that challenge. I found these tables particularly enlightening and useful. They are well organized and can be used as an easy and convenient reference.
The authors' also provide information on how to interview prospective students and approach a parent if you are concerned about a learning problem. Conolly even provides a sample vision screening survey to use if one suspects a vision issue. Although we can investigate the causes and characteristics of different learning challenges, I am wary of music educators using surveys or checklists to help parents determine whether their child possibly has a learning issue. These resources are informative, but I wish Conolly stressed that her materials are not to be used as a diagnostic tool.
The most thought-provoking aspect of this book is the authors' unwavering belief that music is for every child, even those with learning challenges. They also emphasize that music has a nourishing effect on the brain, especially for those with learning challenges. This book is an empowering read for teachers taking on the challenge of educating learning disabled children."
-Reviewed by Amanda Montgomery
Orangeburg, South Carolina