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Music Therapy Program Uses iPad with Clients in Bahamas

Meadows iPad pilot program enables Dr. Robert Krout to extend new technology into field

Dr. Robert Krout, head of the music therapy department at SMU, is using technology in an entirely new way. In January 2011, Dr. Krout took a Meadows iPad to Abaco, Bahamas, to work with elementary age students with special needs in The Hope Town School. The school serves students and their families on the small island of Elbow Cay.

Dr. Krout brought the iPad to Elbow Cay to integrate assistive technology products into the practice of music therapy there. Electronic music resources and assistive technology products have recently been incorporated into the field of music therapy, but Dr. Krout is one of the first to use iPads. “Apps on the iPad like PocketDrums and Percussions Plus allow clients to make music regardless of their handicap,” Krout said. “Clients are drawn to technology. And the effort required to actually play the percussive instruments on the iPad gives clients satisfaction. It is meaningful for them to use these instruments.”

Dr. Krout teaches students

Dr. Krout making music with engaged students

Krout was drawn to the iPad because it is very user-friendly; the motions one must go through to use the iPad are intuitive and most commands can be made just by sliding fingers across the surface. The device is easy for clients to use, and the animation it provides really holds their attention. Most importantly, Krout says, the iPad can engage a group of clients at once, and it provides an opportunity for clients to interact with each other. One of the major goals in music therapy is group cohesion, and in the Bahamas Dr. Krout saw the iPad accomplish this task.

Dr. Krout received the iPad through an iPad Pilot Program sponsored by Jason Warner and the Meadows Technology Team. The pilot program was open to Meadows faculty and staff who had ideas of how Apple’s new mobility platform might improve teaching and learning outcomes, improve or streamline business practices and efficiencies, or lead to development of a unique Meadows app. The iPad Pilot Program applications were evaluated and approved by a committee comprised of the Meadows Technology Team and Dean José Bowen, and then 10 iPads were awarded to six individuals within Meadows. Dr. Krout was one of the six awarded an iPad on a permanent basis.

When Dr. Krout returned from the Bahamas, he gave a report on his successful experience. “We were stunned and inspired at his use of the new technology as a tool,” said Jason Warner, Meadows’ Digital Arts Solutions Architect. “I recommended that the music therapy department receive additional iPad 2s to expand and help facilitate what Dr. Krout is doing with therapy and these devices. Dean Bowen approved. We hope that this can be a model to show how those with vision can utilize devices like iPads as powerful tools.”

Dr. Krout will continue to incorporate the use of iPads with the music therapy program in the coming fall semester. This partnership and collaboration between technology and teaching is one which Meadows hopes to continue and grow throughout every discipline.

For more information, please visit the Pocket Drums app site here.

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