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The United Sound Method for Private Lesson Teachers


Inclusion is at the heart of United Sound, a peer mentoring program that provides musical performance experiences for students with special needs (called New Musicians). The United Sound method was created for use in a school setting, but the same training can be used by private lesson teachers.

Below are training videos that showcase United Sound’s program and resources.

Please note: These videos are created for students participating in United Sound in school. We hope that the concepts will help shed light on working with students with special needs, but we acknowledge that private teachers’ experiences might vary greatly.


The United Sound Program

In this program overview, you’ll see the relationship between Peer Mentor Abby and New Musician Jessica develops and grow during the school year.

Download this worksheet, and during the video’s “Discussion Time” breaks, use the keywords from the worksheet to think about the impressions and takeaways from each clip.

[I don’t find the worksheet helpful. Each “Empower,” “Communicate” and “Modify” box is the same for all 7 clips. We could list the keywords here instead of having to download the worksheet.]


Parents’ Perspectives

Parents of New Musicians express how United Sound has affected their children.

Discussion Points: [questions from the certification quiz]

  • What moment in the video did you find particularly interesting or surprising?
  • Have you had experiences with parents that were negative? How could these interactions be different with different instruction?


Curriculum and Teaching

In this video, United Sound founder Julie Duty explains how to utilize the United Sound methodology.

Download this worksheet, and during the video’s pause-for-discussion sections, use keywords from the worksheet to discuss impressions and takeaways from each clip.

Discussion Points:

  • Pause #1: Which elements of Communicate, Modify and Empower did you see in these two classrooms? Do you think this type of celebration is more about Communication or Empowerment?
  • Pause #2: Think about your private lesson environment. What is one change that you could make to create a “no-fail” environment for your students?
  • Pause #3: What did you see that was positive in the student’s teaching? What could he have done better?
  • Pause #4: Do you think it’s appropriate to include “down time” in a private lesson? Could intentionally off-task moments increase the productivity of the rest (say, 25 minutes) of your lesson time? Beyond “chatting” about your day, what is one idea that you could add to your lessons to enhance the environment for a student with special needs?
  • Pause #5: Do you have students who struggle with traditional notation? Would you be willing to modify notation for them?
  • Using a single word or phrase, what is your biggest takeaway from this video?


United Sound Font Tutorial

This video shows how to install the United Sound font (from Finale) plug in – from the ABLE Assembly at Berklee College of Music in April 2019.

Download the Finale font here.

Download Finale font flashcards here.

Now, use the Finale font to write music in modified “food” notation.

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