Moving Beyond “That’s All I Can Do”: Encouraging Musical Creativity in Children with Learning Disabilities. Kim McCord, Illinois State University. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education. 2004.

Illinois State University trains more teachers than any other American college and has an unparalleled reputation in the teacher education field.

“whatever she liked was the right answer…”

McCord’s research focuses on Kathy, a 14-year diagnosed with learning disabilities, speech/language impairment and ADHD. McCord evaluates two items of music technology for Kathy: a software programme (‘Music Mania’), and Soundbeam. For Kathy, the pressure exerted by the software package to deliver correct answers at the end of each module became a real obstacle to her creativity: “wanting to get the right anwer inhibited her from straying from what she thought she was supposed to do, whereas Soundbeam allowed her to “relax and enjoy the process” to become “enthralled by the freedom to make her sounds however she wanted….whatever she liked was the right answer”

The idea that using Soundbeam can release children from the anxieties provoked by a right/wrong, correct/incorrect approach to music education is persuasively argued. Professor McCord’s paper represents a valuable new addition to the growing body of research investigating the uses of Soundbeam in special education.