Mini course:

Decoding Behaviour in Music Education

Supporting students with behavioural challenges in the music studio or classroom is often difficult, and is the number one concern of teachers when accepting students with exceptionalities into their studios or classrooms. The key to positive behaviour support is decoding what is happening beneath the behaviour so that we can solve the root of the problem and stop the behaviour at the source. Understanding the biological and environmental impacts on behaviour is critical in understanding how we can provide support. Shifting our perspective from feeling like the student is causing us distress to seeing that the student is in distress, and then implementing tools to help manage that distress, can not only facilitate learning but can help us to create a strong relationship with our student and become a positive presence for them.

In this course, we’ll explore an evidence-based model for behaviour support and practical tools that will equip you to deal with even the most challenging behaviours in a way that supports the student and sets them up for music learning success! 

Recorded lectures and supplemental guidebook (unlimited access after registering)



In this course, you will learn:

  • Behaviour as communication, and what your student is trying to tell you
  • Common diagnoses with behavioural component, such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Common triggers for behaviours
  • Understanding the underlying causes of behaviours
  • How to create an environment in your classroom or studio that reduces challenging behaviours
  • Learn evidence-based strategies for behaviour support that you can implement with your students
  • Managing your wellbeing when teaching challenging students

Course contents

Erin Parkes, PhD

Director of Research and Professional Development
Lotus Centre for Special Music Education
Dr. Erin Parkes received her Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts in Musicology, and Graduate Certificate in Piano Pedagogy Research from the University of Ottawa. She completed a PhD in Music Education from McGill University in 2015, where she researched how to effectively train studio music teachers to work with students with autism. Erin has been teaching music since 1996 and has worked with students of all ages in a variety of settings. She presents at conference and guest lectures throughout North America and internationally on teaching music to students with special needs and other issues in music education.
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