How are Music Therapy IEP Goals Written?
Given legal clarification that music therapy CAN be considered a related service on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), it’s important to determine how music therapy will assist students in making progress on educational goals.
Before discussing music therapy IEP goals, a student must have already received a music therapy assessment in the special education setting. A music therapy eligibility assessment through the IEP must be provided by a Board Certified Music Therapist. If after assessment, it is found that music therapy is required for the student to benefit in his or her educational program, music therapy is added to the IEP as a related service.
There are several different approaches to the development of music therapy IEP goals:
1. Collaborative Approach: Adding “Music Therapist” as a collaborative support to goals that may have been written by a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, teacher, or other provider.
2. Musical Prompt-Based Approach: Adding music as the “prompt” that will be utilized in the initial stages of teaching the skill. The musical prompts may then be faded and eventually removed so that the student can generalize the skill to the non-music environment.
3. Music Therapy-Specific Approach: In settings where the music therapist does not have ongoing collaboration opportunities with other providers, the therapist may write specific music therapy goals that blend both musical and non-musical achievement. For example, a child may have a goal to play one song on the piano using color-coded notes, which also supports fine motor skills, sequencing, and color matching.
Music Therapy Support for IEP Goals
Within the IEP-based setting, Coast Music Therapy supports a collaborative or music prompt-based approach to goal writing. For example, using music to support a personal information goal over the course of a school year, a music therapist might write the following objectives:
Four-Month Goal Given music mnemonic strategies (song melody presentation), Justine will recite her phone number in unison with an adult with 100% accuracy in four of five trials.
Eight-Month Goal Given music mnemonic strategies (song melody presentation), Justine will recite her phone number through song independently with 100% accuracy in four of five trials.
Twelve-Month Goal When asked verbally by an adult “What’s your phone number?”, Justine will recite her phone number independently by chanting or speaking with 100% accuracy in four of five trials.
Within this sample goal, the student first sings her phone number in unison along with the instructor, then sings her phone number independently, and lastly at the 1-year mark, is able to recite her phone number verbally without singing.
Common Skills Supported
Coast Music Therapy supports five primary categories of goal areas, outlined below.
Academic and Cognitive
- Calendar concepts
- Letter identification and letter sounds
- Math facts
- Money concepts
- Number identification and counting
- Phonics and sight words
- Pre-academic concepts (colors, shapes, size)
- Time telling
Behavior and Emotional Well-Being
- Attention and focus
- Anger management
- Classroom rules
- Self-regulation and relaxation
- Understanding of emotions
Communication and Social Skills
- Answering wh- questions (who, what, when, where, why)
- Articulation, pace, and volume of speech
- Conversation skills
- Increasing phrase length
- Peer interaction
- Play skills
- Requesting, labeling, and describing
- Speech initiation
- Vocabulary development
Daily Living and Safety
- Hand washing and toothbrushing
- Phone number and address memorization
- Safety and traffic sign identification
- Toileting steps
- Bilateral body movement
- Fine motor skills
- Directional and spatial concepts (left, right)
- Motor planning and sequencing
- Stretching and range of motion