The Impact of Percussion in a Special Education Setting

HELLO EVERYONE!  😀  My name is Samir Tawalare, I am a junior at the College of William & Mary majoring in history and secondary education, and I hope to earn a master’s degree in special education through our School of Education’s five-year master’s degree program.  This summer, implementing my Monroe project will allow me to combine two of my biggest passions, the drums and education, into a cohesive, productive, and enjoyable academic and musical adventure!

With my project, I hope to understand how playing percussion instruments could be useful to students with physical, developmental, medical, and other disabilities who are educated in a school wholly dedicated to special education, and whether playing or utilizing percussion instruments should be incorporated into the curricula of special education classes to enhance students’ appreciation for music and their development of the skills necessary to play various instruments.  To pursue these interests of mine, I plan to organize and lead a four-week percussion enrichment program at a well-funded and well-equipped school specializing in educating students with physical, developmental, medical, or other disabilities.  This enrichment program will allow participating students to explore the world of percussion instruments by playing them in an ensemble-like format with the other students and me and to learn more about different playing techniques and rhythmic concepts.  By the end of the program, I hope to be able to determine whether or not and why the program was enjoyable for the students.  I also want to determine whether their teachers, aides, or nurses noticed any changes in each student’s behaviors, emotions, interests, class participation, or hobbies throughout the course of the program.

I think everyone involved in this project is really going to enjoy being a part of it!  I am just as focused on developing positive relationships with students and staff members as I am on contributing to the scholarly literature regarding the topics of music therapy, special education, and music education.  I am excited to share my journey with all of you! 😀


  1. coolrob831 says:

    This is an amazing project Samir! Being the son of a special ed teacher and having worked extensively with special needs students, I am always intrigued by programs that will encourage learning and enjoyment in the special ed classroom. I hope that this project is successful for you, and I’m looking forward to hearing your results. I know if anyone can carry passion and joy through music, it’s you!

  2. michaelsparrow says:

    Hey Samir! If there was a more perfect way for you to be spending your summer than this I’d be hard-pressed to find it haha. I notice you specifically said in your abstract that you will be hosting this camp at a “well-funded” school; one of the things that excites me about this idea is that it can be applied and experimented with even at locations with less-than-stellar funding. Brass and woodwind instruments are tough to replace effectively, but the fundamentals of rhythm and ensemble participation can still be emulated effectively by pots, trash cans, wooden spoons, milk crates, or other easily-attainable materials. Music therapy is a growing field and I can see this idea of yours growing and doing so much good in the future – perhaps several years down the line another research project could be conducted comparing the efficacy of this program at well-funded schools with high-quality instruments versus poorly-funded schools with replacement equipment. I can’t wait to see what becomes of your project, but I think it and you both have a very bright future in years to come!

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