April 27, 2021
Dr. Alice Hammel, co-author of Teaching Music to Students with Autism, shares the story of her journey to a vocation in music education for students with learning differences. We discuss the content of the books she’s authored, what music has to offer those with autism, and practical tips for parents and educators (both in classroom and private lesson settings).
My guest today is Dr. Alice Hammel, the co-author of Teaching Music to Students with Autism, as well as three other books related to teaching music to students with special needs and learning differences. Dr. Hammel is a faculty member of James Madison University. She is in high demand as a clinician and teacher throughout the US; and is widely published in the areas of music education, teacher education, and students with special needs. Dr. Hammel holds several leadership positions in the field of music education and is the recipient of multiple awards honoring her work in the field.
- Alice has developed so much expertise in the field of music education for those with autism or other learning differences. Some of her passion for this field began in what was a pretty unconventional childhood. She tells us a little bit about her early childhood years, and how and when she became drawn to the field that she’s in.
- Alice is co-author of four books:
- Teaching Music to Students with Autism (2nd ed. released in 2020): A comprehensive practical guide for music educators who work with students with autism. Authors and veteran music educators Alice M. Hammel and Ryan M. Hourigan offer an approach centered in inclusion designed for music educators, music teacher educators, and all those who have an interest in the education of students with autism. In this second edition, the authors offer fully up-to-date information on the diagnosis of autism, advocating for students and music programs, and creating and maintaining a team-approach when working with colleagues. A significant portion of the book is focused on understanding the communication, cognition, behavior, sensory, and socialization challenges inherent in students with autism and ways to structure classroom experiences and learning opportunities for all students.
- Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Label-free Approach (2nd released 2017): This superb resource is a practical guide and reference manual addressing special needs in the broadest possible sense to equip teachers with proven, research-based curricular strategies that are grounded in both best practices and current special-education law. Chapters address the full range of topics and issues music educators face, including parental involvement, student anxiety, field trips and performances, and assessment strategies.
- Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Practical Resource (2011): This book equips music educators with understanding necessary to implement teaching ideas into the domains of cognition, communication, behavior, emotions, and physical and sensory needs. Classroom-tested lesson plans include procedure outlines and assessments as well as guides for adaptation, accommodation, and modification needed for successful implementation in K-12 classrooms and provides teachers with enough practical ideas to allow them to begin to create and adapt their own lesson plans for use with students of differing needs and abilities.
- Winding It Back: Teaching to Individual Differences in Music Classroom and Ensemble Settings (2016): The framework of this text is centered on three core principles: honoring the individual learning needs of all students; providing multiple access points and learning levels; and providing adequate learning conditions for all students within the music classroom. Topics include early childhood music, creative movement, older beginners, rhythm, and tonal development as well as secondary choral and instrumental music. All chapters focus on meeting the needs of all students and all learning levels within the music classroom.
- We discuss what music education has to offer those with autism.
- Alice shares tips for music educators working with those with autism (both in a classroom setting and private lesson setting).
- Alice shares tips for parents of children on the spectrum re: incorporating music into their life.
- Alice’s personal website
- Facebook: @ahammel
- Alice’s book, Teaching Music to Students with Autism (co-authored with Ryan Hourigan)
- Other books by Alice include:
- Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Label-Free Approach
- Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Practical Resource
- Winding It Back: Teaching to Individual Differences in Music Classroom and Ensemble Settings
- An Attitude and Approach for Teaching Music to Special Learners
- Exceptional Music Pedagogy for Children with Exceptionalities: International Perspectives (contributing author)
- Alice also recommends: Music Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Resource for Teachers, by Sheila Scott
- Hollie Hammel on Spotify
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Alice says: I want to highlight a song written by one of my daughters, Hollie Hammel. She is a singer/songwriter, everything vocalist, and musician supreme in Nashville. This is a song she wrote last year during the worst of the pandemic. It is called “Better Days.” I love the hopeful, yet authentic lyrics and the surprising rhythmic motives. Hollie writes in a personal way and is not afraid to show all sides of humanity. Plus, she is one of my two favorite musicians in the world (the other is my daughter, Hannah, who is principal flute with the Detroit Symphony). Hollie’s music can be found on Spotify – Hollie Hammel. This song is “Better Days.”
Thank you so much, Hollie, for sharing that song of hope and optimism with us today!
I did look up the book that Alice recommended to us, by Sheila Scott. It is called, Music Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Resource for Teachers. There is a link in the show notes, along with lots of other information from today, including a link to Hollie’s music. I also want to point out that Alice referenced a “Ryan” during our conversation, and that is Ryan Hourigan, the co-author of her books. Thanks to Alice, and also Ryan and Hollie, for their contributions to this Autism Acceptance Month episode.
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