Special Education and the fine arts

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JJJ, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Tigger has played stringed instruments since the end of 3rd grade. It has been a typical difficult child journey (changed instruments several times, only lasted 3 months in the 'group', ALL due to lack of focus never a behavior problem). Of course, now he really want to focus and has been doing lessons once a week and guided practice twice a week.

    The orchestra directors are less than flexible. Heck, we had trouble with them with Piglet! Their attrition rates are horrible -- Piglet's grade started with 140 kids as 4th graders and they were down to about 25 as 7th graders. So it isn't just the special kids that are falling away from the program. They do not seem concerned about the attrition, in fact they keep putting more hurdles in front of the kids (they work very hard to give the impression that private lessons are mandatory, even though they can't require it; but since so many parents then do it, if you don't then your child falls behind, etc, etc)

    I'm so torn cause Tigger would do well with the right supports but the directors have their heels dug into the sand on this one and while I know the school would force them to allow him into the orchestra, do I want that? It is three times/week for 30 minutes each. I can just keep Tigger in the outside lessons and stall until high school when he switches to a new director who seems more open to all.

    I hate when, even though your child has a legal right to participate in something, the people in charge can make it so unpleasant that it loses all value.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    My advice would be to ask around...

    There's gotta be a person involved with a church choir, or a music group that does local gigs at senior citizens homes and such that would LOVE to take Tigger under their wing. Don't let the school be your only option for musical opportunities!
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ugh....thats a hard one. None of mine played anything. I did sing in chorus and bless that teacher because I cant carry a tune...lol. I think that is why she always had me playing piano with her looking back. I actually got my letter in band for writing an essay...lmao.

    What does tigger think? Would he want to be in the orchestra just for the fun of being in there or would he like it more to take private lessons until HS? I think I might like it better to take private lessons for awhile until I felt better prepared but that is just me.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    He does do his music outside the school right now. It is just frustrating because it costs me $$$ when the district is providing it to 'regular' kids.

    I just spoke with Tigger and he says he likes the orchestra teacher that has worked with him the last two years (and we can push him down two grades to keep him with her). He is alternates between wanting to be with the whole orchestra and not wanting to (I think he is worried about it.)
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    That is really a tough one since it seems like a HUGE disparity between what 'should' be happening with the program, and what is.

    I would definitely find out what Tigger REALLY wants, and if he REALLY wants to be in orchestra, then fight to get him in. At least he's TRYING.

    As I see it there is a lousy 'status quo' in effect here, and most ppl just go along with it. Of course, most ppl are not difficult children or parents of difficult children. *WE* seem to be always fighting the 'status quo' I would not be surprised to hear that after you got Tigger 'in', other parents would try to follow suit because they are thinking those private lessons are REQUIRED. They don't know all the ins and outs of the system and that private lessons can NOT be 'required'.

    This is truly messed up since school enrichment programs are supposed to be designed for EVERYONE, especially those who can NOT afford such things privately. So sad that this is happening at the lower grade levels. It's enough to discourage kids (and parents) permanently.
  6. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    We also had issues with the middle school band. difficult child never played in the band in middle school. We had him work with a private flute tutor for the middle school years and then he joined the high school program. His is now doing well in band. Except he still has some troubles with the concepts of team vs. self. He gets frustrated when he is required to give up something for the band program (example: skipping one date to go to the mandatory award ceremony). However, he is hanging in and I think it will help him learn how to get along with the rest of the world. So it worked for us and although not totally smooth is helping his development.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    The phrase they use in the flyers is "private lessons are strongly encouraged". But they ask the kids 'who are doing your lessons with?" as if it is a given; and if your child doesn't take privates, you get a lot of "she really struggles to keep up" "I don't think she really likes being in orchestra cause it is such a struggle for her", etc. And they assign complicated music that without a private instructor only the brightest kids can learn with the minimal instruction they get at school. Piglet has been with her current private instructor since last fall because it became clear that without it, orchestra was becoming very unpleasant.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Is there a community orchestra? Some families around here have used that option as a bridge to high-school. These community-based ones can't afford to have "bad" leaders - they need numbers for the band to work. You still have to pay SOMETHING, but its cheaper than private lessons, and still provides the group-work...
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    We have a community orchestra but it also 'requires' private lessons.

    Both of the people who work with Tigger privately think he can do it.
  10. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    If it's important to Tigger to be in the orchestra, I say go for it. Miss KT started clarinet in fifth grade, played in junior high, did marching band for three years, and was tossed out the last day of school, as they were preparing to play for graduation, for giving the band director a one finger salute. The salute was long overdue...the director was HORRIBLE, and Miss KT's last year of band was full of drama. The previous director was fabulous...the kids played at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, things like that...and then we got The Princess. Anyway...

    in my opinion, Band gives the kids a sense of identity, which was why I wanted Miss KT to play. Even with the terms band geeks and orch dorks (by the way, they call themselves Bandos now) it's still a relatively safe spot for them.
  11. seriously

    seriously New Member

    How about going up a grade or two instead of down? Would the high school orchestra teacher welcome him? It's not completely unheard of for a kid to start an instrument in high school. If the logistics could be worked out, maybe he could play with them instead - heck you might even be able to get it into his IEP and make the SD pay to transport him for the class...
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    The problem is that the 'beginner' orchestra is the 5th grade one. If kids miss the boat and don't sign up in 5th grade, then they are not welcome in the school orchestra unless they take intense private lessons and 'catch up' to their grade.

    We can wait until he is in 9th grade because the high school has a beginner orchestra but he is enjoying it so I don't want him to skip it.
  13. seriously

    seriously New Member

    I meant could he play with the high school orchestra instead of the middle school one?
  14. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This sounds completely frustrating. I teach 4th and 5th grade and strings is open to 5th graders. If they don't start then, they can't join in during 6th grade. Over the years we have had several strings teachers. Some have worked really well with Special Education. kiddos but some have had little tolerance. It drives me crazy.