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The purpose of this study was to describe the current status of students with special needs in the instrumental musical ensemble and to examine the effect of selected educator and institutional variables on rates of inclusion. An online survey was designed by the researcher and distributed electronically to 600 practicing K-12 instrumental music educators in the states of Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. While 13.6% of the total school-aged population nationwide received special education services, demographic data provided by respondents revealed that students with special needs accounted for 6.8% of all students participating in bands, orchestras, and other instrumental musical ensembles. The relationship between the rate of inclusion and selected educator variables (gender, age, level of education, special education coursework, primary teaching area, and teaching experience) and institutional factors (geographic location, community setting, institution type, and student population) was examined using multiple regression with backward elimination. The institutional factor ‘student population’ was found to be a significant predictor of inclusion; as the overall school population increased, the rate of inclusion among students with special needs in instrumental music classes decreased. Respondents also indicated that instructional and administrative aspects of teaching (scheduling, funding, allotted planning time, etc.) played a limited role in their ability or inability to include students with special needs. In the observations and experiences of instrumental music educators, special education students were most accomplished in the areas of public performance, exhibiting acceptable behavior, and movement, while the ability to sight-read, perform and/or read rhythms, and memorization were more problematic. Although 42% or respondents had no college coursework in special education, 97% were currently teaching students with special needs and most were willing to provide students with a variety of accommodations.
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