Unlocking the Power of Music and Dance: Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment for Special Needs Individuals

Written by: Emanuel Luo and Xixiang (Sam) Luo, FCSN Youth Volunteer Instructors

Graphics by: Olivia Koo, FCSN Voices Graphic Artist

Special needs individuals thrive in an education environment tailored to their individual needs. Verbal communication may be a challenge for them, but music can provide an effective means of expression, allowing them to communicate through sound and visual images. To ensure the success of the Virtual Music and Hip-Hop program, we created interactive, tailored courses in different subjects to introduce special needs individuals to the wide array of stimuli that can spark their curiosity. This class focuses on music and hip-hop dance, which is divided into three components: music theory and instruments, dancing, and singing. The structure and sequence of the class has been shown to be effective in helping students to focus on each section for only 20 minutes.

Classes begin with Wilson and Emanuel teaching music theory and instruments for twenty minutes, including the basic concepts such as key signatures, scales, intervals, chords, and harmony, as well as various fancy music instruments, including the recent emergence of AI composition. Sam always starts with a basic hip-hop warm-up, exploring rhythm and tempo, as well as beat-making skills. Then he continues with simple dance moves, teaching step-by-step body movements to help special needs children improve their motor skills and have fun. Finally, Henry and Amanda teach students sentence-by-sentence the lyrics to popular songs, their own compositions, or any songs students are particularly interested in, allowing students to express themselves musically. Throughout the class, students hone their sense of rhythm, pitch, and timing, while learning to work together and create a pleasant learning environment. The children are always excited to attend this weekly class, and they always arrive punctually. By the end of the virtual class, they are all beaming with smiles.

Virtual Music and Hip-Hop Class Instructors Emanuel Luo, Xixiang (Sam) Luo, Henry Shang, Amanda Lau, Wilson Chen

The class also contains special events such as a Christmas theme party and a Summer Music Event that allows the students to have a chance to perform and shine.

To us, instructing special needs children is a novel experience, and seeing their enjoyment of the class is a rewarding experience for us. Looking ahead, we are committed to expanding the program to go beyond singing and dancing, to make sure it reaches more special needs children with different interests. Our team provides a platform for these children to cultivate their unique talents and demonstrate their strengths, thereby allowing them to unleash their potentials to the fullest.

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