Music Therapy class grants opportunities


Agatha Orlovska

Mr. Payano plays the guitar, a student leads in singing and the rest of the class performs as backup singers during Lane's music therapy class.

By Agatha Orlovska, Reporter

Piano rugs are scattered all over the floor and the song “How Far I’ll Go” from the movie “Moana” has a dominant presence in the room. Students are using a wide range of instruments — some shake maracas while others play on a keyboard. The room is filled with students interacting and sharing the power of music. This is Music Therapy at Lane.

Lane Tech is home to the Cluster program for students with diverse learning needs. From Adaptive Robotics to physical education leaders, Lane offers an abundance of opportunities for cluster program students to interact with other students while learning about something that interests them. One of those classes is Music Therapy.

Music Therapy was established four years ago by Mr. Payano, who first taught Music Appreciation but now teaches Music Therapy.

“[One] of the assistant principals asked me if I wanted to start this class,” Payano said.  “At that point we had Adaptive Art and Adaptive Robotics and essentially the idea was to replicate that in term of music because we all believed in the power of music. I had no idea how things were going to go but we just went for it and we kind of developed the class as it was going and it grew organically.”

According to Payano, Music Therapy was created to bring students together while still providing a “positive music environment and experience” for the students with diverse learning needs.

“A lot of this class is about developing social skills with the Buddies that don’t have too many opportunities to do that,” Payano said.

Payano received a grant of $1,800 from Google and Donors Choose in November 2015.

“We applied for the grant because especially at that time there was not a lot of funding for special education in general and we have a budget at the school,” Payano said. Before he received the grant he brought in instruments from other classes and his own to support the classes’ need for instruments.   

Payano was thrilled for what was to come with the addition of the money.

“[There] are a lot of students with profound disabilities that can’t really play traditional instruments so I decided to make a donors choose application in order to get enough funding to buy piano rugs that you put on the floor and you can step on and play on, velcro jingle bells you can strap to someone’s arms, small tambourines that someone can hold and shake, maracas and egg shakers just to get instruments that were a little more accessible to students with special needs,” Payano said.

On top of improving the class’s supply of instruments, the grant had other beneficial effects.

“It has given a lot to the reputation of the class and the special education department in general, to show it is important,” Payano said.

The grant also led to an increase in students excitement to join those classes.

“It has brought a lot of buzz around the class and every year there are students clamoring to get into the class because they know what a great experience it is,” Payano said.

Music therapy was not the only class at Lane affected by the grant. Money was also donated to all of the special education classes at Lane, which was much needed. Even though the grant had a major effect on the Lane Tech community, many people were not aware of it.

Grants like the one Payano received have already helped many classes, though more money would relieve some other budget restraints that are prevalent in special education classes at Lane, Payano said.

Sandy Mendiola, Div. 971, is a part of the special education leaders class.

“I believe PE Leaders will truly benefit from a grant,” Mendiola said. “Since the class consists of physical activities and games, equipment sometimes can be limited. Having [a] grant will not only go into new equipment for activities but also for accessories that will help the buddies personally.”

The grant had a positive impact on the special education classes offered at Lane. It made music therapy a class that everyone can enjoy.

“[No] matter how severe a child’s disability is we have an instrument we can get into their hands,” Payano said.