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Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...

Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...

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SECTION: Music for Lifelong Learning COUNTRY: United States of America PROJECT: USING MUSIC TECHNOLOGY TO PROMOTE LEARNING WITH ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS ON THE AUTISTIC SPECTRUM: SOUNDSCAPE DESCRIPTION: The SoundScape program is an interdisciplinary, university-based music intervention for high-functioning adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). SoundScape also provides an informal parent group to promote support for this approach with family networks. In context of the SoundScape program, the music-making activities require students to listen, analyze, problem-solve, create, and reflect on their work, allowing students the opportunity to attach personal meaning to their learning. The activities of the SoundScape program were designed around the students‟ existing interests in music and technology. Many have a strong interest in music or even an outstanding and unique (i.e. savant) talent. In addition, the incorporation of technology through the use of computers and video equipment helped make SoundScape particularly attractive to those with ASD who often find motivation through these methods. As well as learning about music and encouraging creativity, the SoundScape activities enabled participants to experience success, which is important as many individuals with ASD have poor self-esteem and low self-confidence. The program activities were designed so that it was impossible to fail or do poorly. The music production software used in the program (Garageband) is very versatile and enables even those who cannot read music or play an instrument to successfully create their own pieces using a broad range of different instrument sounds, tempos, styles, rhythms, etc. SoundScape also attempts to address the social challenges experienced by those with ASD by providing participants with the opportunity to meet others and practice effective communication and successful interactions, and potentially form rewarding friendships. This was facilitated by designing class activities and projects that maximized the need for group work and collaboration. RESEARCH AND EVALUATION: The research component of the music program consists of participants and parents completing questionnaires. They complete questionnaires before and after participation in the music program, and a brief questionnaire each week. These have been selected and designed to evaluate the success and efficacy of the program. If parents agree to be in the research component, the pre-evaluation questionnaires are completed at the first session. Post-intervention questionnaires are completed at the end of the last session. The program also uses feedback to constantly re-adjust our approach in terms of the projects we are doing, time frames for projects and length of time for each session. We continually revisit the format based on feedback about project deadlines – which means including more free-form improvisation activities this year using iPads as the instruments. There are marked medical and psychological benefits of improved self-esteem, improved ability to collaborate and make friends, and reduced levels of stress. CURRENT STATUS: The program is entering its fifth year in the fall of 2011. The program generally operates for eight weeks every fall and has an enrollment of around 15 students each year. Students can repeat this program for several years. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: http://faculty.uml.edu/ahillier/SoundScape_Music_Program.htm 176

Publications: Hillier, A., Greher, G., Poto, N., & Dougherty, M. (2011). Positive outcomes following participation in a music intervention for adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum. Psychology of Music 0305735610386837, first published on February 23, 2011 as doi: 10.1177/0305735610386837 Greher, G.R., Hillier, A., Dougherty, M., & Poto, N. (2010). SoundScape: An Interdisciplinary Music Intervention for Adolescents and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum. International Journal of Education & the Arts (IJEA) 11, (9) ISSN 1529-8094. http://www.ijea.org/v11n9/ CONTACT INFORMATION: Organization: University of Massachusetts Lowell Address: 1 Mahoney Hall, 870 Broadway Street, Lowell, MA 01851 Phone: (978) 934-2930 Contact Person: Ashleigh Hillier, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology Email: ashleigh_hillier@uml.edu 177

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