As Amanda Partlo strummed a guitar to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine,” a trio of Alto Elementary students pounded on tambourines in time to the music. For Mason Cross, it inspired a few dance moves as well.
“If I play loud, how should you play?” Partlo asked.
“Loud!” answered Lacey Rainey in a big voice.
“And if I play quiet, how should you play?” Partlo whispered.
“Quiet,” said Chase Beach, softly.
The trio of students in Cynthia Donahue’s cognitive-impaired classroom took part in 10 one-hour sessions this school year with Partlo, a music therapist at the Franciscan Life Process Center.
They practiced eye contact, motor skills, speech, focus and attention, and more thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Lowell Education Foundation.
“This is so developmentally where they are at, to have music classes that require involvement,” Donahue said. The sessions “work all those skills we want them to have going forward. And that they are listening to someone besides me has been huge for them.”
Lowell Education Foundation President Heather Cooper said the grant made sense for the foundation to fund, because it “has substantial research behind it that supports its effectiveness in improving social behavior, creativity and vocabulary comprehension, just to name a few. It reduces anxiety and muscle tension, and allows students to learn better — and that’s what LEF is all about.”