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Access Vs. Barriers

A wooden barrier with yellow and black stripes, and a red light on top in the center of a picture, with a blue background.

Welcome to The Accessible Music Classroom!!! But wait a second, what does an accessible music classroom mean? What does access mean? And most importantly, who should it be accessible for???

When I think of the word access, to me it means that everyone has a way to learn, engage, and make music in a way that makes sense to them. If we were to connect this to the National Core Arts Standards anchors, does every one of our students have a way to create, perform, respond, and connect? The answer should be yes!!! It is possible. 

And who should have access? The music classroom should be accessible to ALL! Not just some, but every single one of our students. 

But how? How do teachers find the time to do this, and reach every student, when every student is so vastly different? I often hear of teachers feeling overwhelmed or challenged to find a way to engage everyone at the same time. I hear you - it can feel daunting, especially when you have 25+ students in just one class setting alone. 

One of the things I strive to do as a consultant, educator, and leader in the accessible music field is to reflect on ways that we can take a step back, and think about what aspects can we change in our teaching practice, materials, or environment- without overloading ourselves. As teachers, we are human beings as well and need to take time for ourselves and our families. Nevertheless, through gradual change and reflection, it is possible.

When I consider the word access, I also recognize that we need to consider the opposite - which is the word barriers. When teaching, or preparing a lesson, I consider what are the barriers in the content, materials, repertoire, environment, etc., which may prevent my students from achieving success. It is not that our students cannot do it, but what are the existing barriers, how can I remove them, and most importantly - how does everyone benefit from that?

Think of our classrooms like this baseball game. On the left side of the diagram, some attendees receive more, while others get less, which results in who gets a clear view of the game. As we move towards the right, we would think that the goal would be to give everyone what they need, so they can all watch the game. Great, right? But when we get to the last picture, the fence that was in the previous three pictures is removed completely. If we remove the overall barrier in the first place, then everyone benefits! It is the same in our classrooms, and that is the overall goal, and how we create true inclusion and a place for belonging for all.

So my goal through my work, and now this blog - is to showcase and share how I do this in my classroom with my students, and I hope that this will resonate with you and your students. Let’s create music classrooms where barriers are removed, and everyone has access to achieve success!!!

Inequity, Equality, Equity, and Justice. (n.d.). Boston University Diversity & Inclusion. Retrieved April 4, 2024 from
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