Ep. 120: The inclusive, sustainable music classroom; with United Sound’s Julie Duty

United Sound

Photo by United Sound

As a middle school band teacher, Julie Duty had a passion for creating an inclusive classroom where students of all abilities and disabilities learned together. She also experienced firsthand the lack of training, support, and resources available to teachers wanting to make this happen. She created a solution, United Sound, which utilizes peer mentors to create student led music clubs within schools. It has clearly filled a vital need – in its first seven years, over 8,000 students have participated in United Sound and they have logged over 213,000 relationship-building, music-making hours together.

Julie Duty
Julie Duty


I am thrilled to have joining me today the Founder and Executive Director of United Sound, Julie Duty. Julie is joining me from Arizona. Julie has a degree in Music Education, and background as a high school and middle school band teacher. She founded United Sound, Inc. in 2014, working with teachers, parents, and administrators to “bring meaningful participation and inclusivity to the instrumental music classroom. United Sound was created with the goal of developing relationships between students with and without disabilities and providing them with the opportunity to build self-esteem, self-confidence, friendships, and a sense of belonging through music.”


We discuss:

  • What United Sound is, in Julie’s own words, and how it came to be.
  • How United Sound achieves its mission to remove barriers and foster social change through music – and why this matters.
  • How is the training and curriculum funded?
  • Students with Disabilities: The effect of participation in United Sound is as simple as finding your niche and sometimes as grand as becoming employable.
  • Student Mentors: Participation in United Sound will have the life-long effect of creating a huge body of people who will work better together and protect each other from discrimination and harm, creating societies of inclusion and compassion.
  • United Sound’s 96% school retention rate speaks for itself and demonstrates that the program “works” for both students and educators.

Connect/Other Resources

In-Episode Promo

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Julie shares the audio from this video, and the story behind it:

Closing Words

Thank you so much to Julie for sharing with us today and for all she does to enhance lives with music. We mentioned Alice Hammel, who was a guest in Ep. 92, and is a research consultant for United Sound. I’ll link to that episode in the show notes; Dr. Hammel spoke about resources for music teachers of those with autism. I’ll also link to several other episodes related to special needs and music. All links from today’s show – and a transcript of this episode – can be found in the show notes; this is Ep. 120. All links are also in the episode details right in your podcast app. While you’re there, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me how music is enhancing your life. You can reach me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.

View Episode Transcript

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