C2: Special Needs Education

This session consisted of two parts. 

Original description: PART I My Music Ability

This lecture is geared towards policy makers and practitioners in higher music education who want to gain insight into the Dutch pilot-project ‘My Music Ability’. This project aims to provide pre-service music teachers with tools to work with disabled people. In this project, the UK-based Drake Music organised training sessions of accessible music-making, through discussion, video and practical work. The pre-service music teachers also performed in an inclusive music ensemble. Melissa Bremmer (Research Group Arts Education, Amsterdam University of the Arts) will explain the goals of the project My Music Ability in more detail and show a short film to exemplify the project. ( & (

Original description: PART II The Impact of Arts in Special Needs Education 

In the Netherlands nearly 80.000 children aged 4 to 20 are educated in special needs schools. How do we provide them with arts education that is really suited to their needs? What makes these needs different from those of other children? Is extra funding needed for meaningful arts education? Mocca, center of expertise for arts education in Amsterdam, conducted a 4-year research and development programme in special needs schools, working closely with national initiatives. It included a development programme for artists and art educators. In a pilot project 19 schools received funding for partnerships with artists and institutions such as the Rijksmuseum. In a dialogue, Peggy Brandon (Mocca) shows the impact of arts education through portraits and interviews with children and shares the results of the development programme and the pilot project.

Results / lessons learned PART II

  • Preparation. Time is needed to prepare lessons so that children with various limitations can fully participate in the program. It is also essential that cultural institutions and schools discuss in advance what their expectations are and what conditions they impose.
  • Customization. 'One size fits all' does not work in special education. Despite a thorough preparation, interim evaluation and consultation are indispensable. Then the program can be adjusted if it does not work in a specific situation.
  • Expertise culture partners. Since special education has an enormous diversity, the cultural partners are expected to have specific skills. How do you design a program that matches a specific target group? What preconditions must be met for a visit to a cultural institution?
  • More art teachers. The participants in the pilot experienced an enormous quality boost to education through the professional input of the art teachers. Craftsmanship, knowledge and skills entered the school through the pilot. More art teachers at the schools contribute to the sustainability of arts education.
  • Attention to care aspects. In special education special transport, extra guidance, medical care and personal attention are required. This requires extra time and resources in the lessons at school and on location.

View Mocca's infographic on the results of their pilot project.