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Playing Beyond Boundaries: A Model for Successful Orchestral Participation for Children with Paralysis

Children with harps

This 9-month-long pilot program, starting in the fall of 2012, is providing up to ten beginning orchestral students who have paralysis weekly instrumental instruction and interdisciplinary therapeutic support in order to prepare the students for inclusion in mainstream school or youth orchestras. With the expertise of music and occupational therapists, assistive technology professionals, and biomechanical engineering students, students will work with their strengths and limitations to learn how to play an instrument of their choice. Over the course of the project, they will also learn how to play with their peers and their peer mentors in a larger group as a precursor to an orchestral ensemble with typical students. Our partners include the Widener Memorial School (WMS), Temple University Music Preparatory Division, and the Institute on Disabilities. The expertise of the therapists and specialists from Temple University will form a working alliance with the therapists and the students at WMS who will enroll in the program in order to support the students' interests in learning and mastering an orchestral instrument.

Funding for this program was generously provided by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Quality of Life Grants ($4000) and Temple University Faculty Senate Seed funds ($10,000).