Music education extends beyond band students

WLHS band students work to create a unified band


Playing the bongos during the first unified band lesson, Emma Harris, junior, learns the basics of playing music. Harris is a participant of the unified band that meets on Thursdays after school.

From unified soccer to unified basketball, West Linn High School has worked to expand the range of opportunities outside the classroom for students with special needs. Kevin Egan, band director, and Julie Holson, learning specialist, have been working to put together a band for students with special needs-a unified band.

After hearing about United Sound, an organization providing the opportunity for students with special needs to be involved with music, Egan and Holson were immediately inspired to bring a similar program to WLHS.

“We asked ourselves, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’” Egan said.

This band creates the opportunity to bring the West Linn community together through music. Not everyone can participate in the school band, so expanding the option to other students will benefit those teaching as well as those learning.

Egan and Holson organized the student run program for students with special needs and the idea is to have three band, or orchestra, students working with one learning student. During the fall, students will be learning to play modified parts of songs that WLHS band will be playing at the Dec. concert, and the plan is to hopefully have the unified band students be up on stage with the band.

“The goal is to have them be a part of the band, not separate,” Egan said.

If all goes according to plan, Egan and Holson are hoping to continue the unified band program running throughout the whole school year. In Jan., they’ll introduce the unified band to new music in hopes that they will play with the WLHS band again during their May concert. Although they have thought everything through, they are expecting some issues to occur.

“The biggest problem will probably be lack of organization on our part,” Egan said. “However, once it starts up, it will be in the hands of the band and orchestra students.”

The unified band meets every Thursday after school from 3:30 to 4:30 in the band room. If any band or orchestra students are interested in helping out, they can contact Egan to learn more.