Amidst the stressors (IEP, college student with mono, workload growing and budget diminishing) we had a moment of sunshine last Saturday. Amigo (age 17, blind, Asperger's) sang a solo in a high school music festival.
Our state's system of festivals is not a competition: rather, it's a festival where students prepare solo or ensemble performances from a pre-determined list of repertoire at various levels of difficulty. These students perform for a trained festival adjudicator, usually a music educator or a private teacher, who rates them based on a performance rubric. Amigo has performed on cello in past years, and this year decided to perform a vocal solo. His choir teacher gladly registered his solo and gave him her good wishes.
He got up early (for a teen on a Saturday) and he sang well. He was pleased, and no matter what the rating, he felt proud. He felt successful.
Successful. That's where the value lies in this experience. We had to really fight with the IEP team to get choir into his schedule, much like we had to fight with them to allow him to study Spanish for two years. Amigo has a strong ear for language and for music, a true talent for both. In my eyes, the decision doesn't rest on whether the class will have value later in life: for these classes, we were looking at the value now. Right now. A student with a disability may struggle with math or history classes, but might thrive in another subject area. Find those subjects, and he can find success or even be a leader.
Amigo found success in singing. Choir is his favorite class, and it meets first hour, setting him up with a good feeling about school each and every day. With his amazing sense of pitch and his excellent listening skills, he is a whiz at learning music and learning languages. If the IEP team doesn't get it, I'll keep pounding at them until they do -- or at least until they give in. It's not about my success in the IEP meeting; it's all about Amigo's successes in life. To be successful in life, he needs to learn what success feels like, and there's no better time to learn than now.
photo by La Petite, Amigo's older sister