Music Education, Class of 2017
Shelby graduated from JMU in May of 2017 with a degree in music education and a minor in music and human services. She taught music to people with disabilities at The Arc of Harrisonburg and Rockingham through Dr. Stringham’s project and shared her experience with 4-VA.
4-VA: What was your role in the project?
Shelby Hall: I led musical experiences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I taught one-on-one sessions using iPads, and I also taught group music sessions using a variety of resources. Hand chimes played a large part in the group sessions, and our group performed Christmas tunes at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community this past December.
4-VA: What was the most rewarding part of participating in the project?
Shelby Hall: The relationships I formed with the people at The Arc made this project incredible. Every person there had different strengths and gifts, and it was wonderful to see them come through while participating in music. I volunteered at The Arc for about 2 years. As schedules changed, different people would come to music every semester. But there were a few who stuck with it through the 2 years, and those friendships are priceless. My last semester there, while we transitioned to a group music session, we had days where 15 or 16 people came to the sessions. It was incredible to see the number of participants grow from 6 to 16.
I also value the small but sweet moments I had with them during our music sessions. I’ll never forget when one person sang harmony with a recording of The Beach Boys during a one-on-one session. I’ll also never forget when another came to music for the first time after months of me asking. Another person would teach me a new word in sign language every time I came to The Arc, using her hands and a book that she constantly carried. Those sweet moments contributed to the growth of our relationships, and I will always be grateful for those moments.
4-VA: How do you perceive this project has impacted the adults with I/DD?
Shelby Hall: Everyone in the music room together had to work together to accomplish one goal. We developed skills pertaining to working as a team. While we were all working on skills such as playing together, singing together, and staying on beat, some had other skills to practice, such as looking up and staying focused on the task at hand. Performing in front of a large group of people sparked confidence, and I’m sure they enjoyed creating something (a musical experience) for others.
4-VA: How did the project impact your education and your future career?
Shelby Hall: Unfortunately, there are not many full time jobs to teach music to adults with disabilities. However I would like to do something similar to this in the future. As of now, the plan is to find a job teaching music in a public school, and then start a program similar to this experience once a week after school. There are not many opportunities for adults with disabilities, and that needs to change. Community music allows people with disabilities to experience the social interactions they desperately need.
In the fall of 2017, Shelby Hall was hired as the new music teacher at Maiden Choice School in Baltimore, Maryland where she specializes in working with children 3-21 years of age who have cognitive disabilities.