Understanding the Effect of Music Therapy for Students with Autism: Analysis of Voices Together Data (2017-2018)

Voices Together is a specialized music therapy program designed to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities express their thoughts, feelings and needs and connect with others socially. The program has been a part of local school special-education classrooms for the past six years and has consistently gained remarkable outcomes. Bass Connections has been involved with Voices Together for the past four years, each year working to design and implement a research study to serve the program’s needs.

In 2016, Voices Together rolled out the Teacher Toolbox, a training program designed to help teachers who aren't certified therapists learn the theory behind music therapy as well as techniques for implementing music therapy interventions into their classrooms. The 2017-2018 team analyzed and interpreted data collected as part of an evaluation of the Voices Together Teacher Toolbox in Alamance County special education classrooms.

Team members focused primarily on differences in student outcomes (language, behavior) between the Teacher Toolbox and standard Voices Together music therapy classrooms. They also examined the impact of teacher characteristics (prior experience/training) on student outcomes, in order to better understand teachers’ experiences in the classroom.

Overall, the team found that preliminary data analysis showed positive teacher responses to the Teacher Toolbox training as well as positive student outcomes for those in classrooms with teachers who had gone through the program. 


Fall 2017 – Spring 2018

Team Outcomes

Understanding the Effect of Music Therapy for Students with Autism: Analysis of Voices Together Data (talk by Jennifer Han and Amber Wolf), EHDx, April 19, 2018

Effect of Music Therapy through Teacher Intervention for Students with Autism (poster by Margaret Darko, Jennifer Han, Paulina Paras and Amber Wolf), presented at EHDx, April 19, 2018

Project team website

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See earlier related team, Voices Together: Music Therapy and Autism in Elementary Schools (2016-2017).

Amber Wolf at EHDx in April 2018.

Team Leaders

  • Megan Gray, Social Science Research Institute
  • Lorrie Schmid, Social Science Research Institute
  • Jessica Sperling Smokoski, Social Science Research Institute

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Margaret Darko, Program II (AB)
  • Jennifer Han, Evolutionary Anthropology (BS)
  • Andrew Jackson, Public Policy Studies (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Paulina Paras, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Amber Wolf, Music (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Geri Dawson, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Jan Riggsbee, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Yasmine White, Voices Together