How has the program impacted students?

Our hand drum group provides a performance experience to part of the student population that normally doesn’t get such opportunities. They get a chance to showcase their abilities like never before. Not only is it an educational experience for the students; it’s fantastic for their families, too.

Parents and loved ones now have the opportunity to see their child succeed with other people. I’ve had several parents tell me how great it was to watch their child perform a concert as a member of a group in front of an audience.

Why use this method?

For many of my students, the hand drum group has become the highlight of their educational experience. There are obvious academic benefits; it can reinforce studies in math, support speech development, enhance motor skills, and improve coordination. But most importantly, it gives them an identity. This is not a modified lesson or a watered-down version of a band or choir class.

This is a performance ensemble created specifically for students with special needs so they can experience a group performance just like everyone else.


For Teachers

  • Fun, exciting educational activities
  • Easily adjusted for student ability level
  • Adapts to state standards and learning goals
  • Works for all age groups
  • Empowers student leadership
  • Connects to life skills

For Students

  • Learn more than just music
  • Build self-confidence
  • Strengthen hand-eye coordination
  • Strengthen motor control
  • Group working skills
  • Communication skills

About The Creator

Jim Howell Headshot

Jim Howell

Mr. Howell started teaching in 1998 and is currently the band director and music teacher at Claymont City Schools in Uhrichsville, Ohio. Beginning in 2009, Mr. Howell has been developing a teaching method that includes a performance ensemble for students with special needs at both the middle school and high school levels. This ensemble provides opportunities to a group of students that did not have a chance to participate in a musical performance in the past and has evolved into a great source of pride in the school district.

Mr. Howell and his students have been featured in the documentary film, “922 From Academic Watch to Academic Wow!” and they have been featured several times in the Times Reporter Ohio newspaper. Mr. Howell has presented his teaching methods at professional conferences for both special education and music educators in Ohio, such as:
• Texas Autism Conference 2022
• Milestones National Autism Conference 2022
• OCALICONLINE 2021 Artist Spotlight
• Milestones National Autism Conference 2021
• Ohio Music Education Association District 8 Mini-Conference 2013

Mr. Howell received the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities “Better Together Award” in 2022.

Mr. Howell has most recently created a performing group at Advocates for Success, an organization that provides life skills training and vocational programs for adults with disabilities in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Mr. Howell holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Ashland University and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Bowling Green State University.