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Breaking Down Barriers in Music Education

United Sound offers unique mentoring program for learning-challenged music students.

United Sound is a school-based instrumental music club for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their peers. Dedicated to promoting social involvement through shared ensemble performance experience, the organization enables music students with and without disabilities to learn and perform in band or orchestra together.

The program is run primarily by a school band or orchestra director and a school special education teacher, with support from United Sound in the form of specialized training, financial support and organizational resources. Students who participate in United Sound programs are called “New Musicians.” With assistance from student volunteers known as “Peer Mentors,” they learn to play the instrument of their choice at a personally modified level. Working first in lesson format and ultimately transitioning to rehearsals with recorded music, the New Musicians learn a piece of music that they then perform live in concert, once per semester, along with their Peer Mentors and a full instrumental support ensemble.

Making music together is a powerful force for learning, growth, friendship and understanding. Music is a language that transcends disability and the relationships formed through this unique program truly resonate with all children involved.

See how the United Sound programs benefit teachers, students and parents:

Please join Yamaha in supporting United Sound to bring music education to all students!


* Photo courtesy of United Sound


Heather Mansell is an accomplished violinist and a 15-year Yamaha employee. She started her career in the musical products industry in Toronto, after her orchestral stand partner offered her a job at a downtown violin shop. Heather is now based out of Southern California at Yamaha Corporation of America and is the product manager for Orchestral Strings. She has eagerly traveled to over a dozen countries in the pursuit of learning about people, places and music.

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