Special Education/Band;


Hi Mr. Runner,
My son is in 5th grade this year but developmentally delayed overall he is working at a 2nd grade level. He has an Iep and everything so far this year has gone well. At the beginning of the year they introduced band and started all the 5th grade kids on playing the recorders, my son fell behind the other children in his class and although enjoyed playing it did not fully grasp the notes being taught etc. This semester they introduced the kids to their very own instruments and my son chose the trumpet! I talked with his teacher before all of this and he had said that if he wanted to play he had an extra trumpet that he could learn on. The first week of band my son comes home super excited because he gets to play and tells me the teacher let him learn some beginning techniques on the trumpet!
Today the instructor calls me up and states that he doesn't want Ryan getting disappointed about not being able to keep up with the other students in band and that he was so far behind already he didn't know if he'd be able to "catch up" with his class.....well EXCUSE ME BUT HE IS SPECIAL NEEDS!!! He's NOT going to catch up and be at the same pace as other kids but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be able to be in band & learn how to play the trumpet does it? :( He asked me what I thought about him just joining choir instead!!
For one he's been looking forward to playing the trumpet the band teacher got him one to try and to begin first lessons with then calls me after the first wk telling me this... and Ryan wasn't discouraged he wanted to learn it! So in a nutshell saying.. its either be able to play with the other students at their pace or be in choir, which he enjoys too..But its just the principal of it all!!! :( Sounds to me like the band instructor just doesn't want to take the time it might take to teach him!! I just wanted to ask if there is there any advice you might have to give in all this? Am I going overboard in wanting him to be able to play a instrument? I understand some % of the band grade does depend on  performances. I just wish there was some way for him to participate and learn. My sons on the basketball team this year and his team and coaches are Awesome he's not on the same level as the other kids but he's still learning team skills and picking up how to play and even participating in the games! I was hoping that band would be the same way.
I noticed your expertise said adaptive PE which isn't the same as band but along the same lines....What direction do you suggest I go with this? Not sure if I'm just being far fetched or I should speak my mind to the band teacher..is it an option to ask for a iep meeting perhaps and include band in his iep?  or just quietly let him join choir..


It is too bad that well intended actions have not worked out. I understand your frustration, but I also appreciate the band teacher trying. It's hard to tell how well a student is going to learn an instrument until he or she tries it. I really don't think the band teacher did anything wrong. He tried, provided an instrument, and gave your son a chance. Unfortunately, your son's disability got in the way. You might ask the band teacher if there is any alternative instrument, such as a percussion instrument your son could try to play? If choir is an alternative to band and your son likes it, then it make sense to have him take choir because it doesn't sound like he will be disappointed. If you really want to see if he can play the trumpet, you can look into private lessons to see how he does.

Having tried to play the trombone in junior high school band, I can say these are tough instruments to play well -- getting the lips just right is very tough. My band teacher did not seem at all disappointed when I went out for football and had to give up band.

If your son qualifies for APE, then he needs it and should take it because it addresses the entire body where as band does not.

I wish you and your son the best,
Tim Runner, Advocate
Advocates for Kids
Email: timrunner@gmail.com
Phone: (949) 582-3601
You can learn more at my web site:

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Tim Runner


Questions concerning special education: IEP, assessments, Due Process, mediation, resolution conference, federal law, state law, qualifying for services, residential treatment, special day classes, resource specialists, procedures, having your child assessed, adaptive PE, speech & language, non-public school, FAPE, and tuition reimbursement.


I have been an education advocate representing students and parents for six years. My experience includes: representing my clients in IEPs, SSTs, Due Process, review assessment results for my clients, and mediations. I have represented clients with learning disabilities, autism, Downs Syndrome, cognitively challenged, emotional problems, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and physical disabilities. I have also represented clients to County Mental Health Departments and Regional Centers. My clients range from pre-school to college students in many states.

I have a degree in Mathematics from the University of California with minors in Psychology and Physics. I also studied applied statistics in psychology at the graduate level. I have taught college classes, conducted seminars, written articles for various publications, and testified as an expert witness.

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