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HCDE music therapist facilitates learning through song in Cy-Fair ISD classrooms

HCDE music therapist Ann Petty (right) plays guitar and sings to Truitt Middle School student Jarred Darcy, who interacts through use of a small gong. Julie Muffley (middle), Special Education/Life Skills Teacher at Truitt Middle School assists.

With more than 7,900 students with disabilities in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Harris County Department of Education provides support to this growing student population through occupational therapy, physical therapy and music therapy.

Ann Petty is one of two full-time HCDE music therapists assigned to work in Cy-Fair ISD. The 18-year veteran therapist travels to multiple campuses throughout her day to provide small group and individual services to students with special needs. Through an Individual Education Program created for each child, Ann determines the individualized needs and how she can use music to support their educational program in the classroom.

“The fun part is finding where the need is for the student and to be able to support that need,” said Petty.

She creates repetitive, rhythmic songs and incorporates various instruments and the use of assistive technology to teach the children. Songs created typically support the classroom curriculum and are shared with classroom instructors. Most recently, she created a song to help a student find locations within their school

Melody combined with rhythm promotes attention and focus to facilitate learning,” explained Petty.

Students that Ann typically works with have autism, intellectual disabilities or various health impairments. Oftentimes these students have trouble focusing and communicating on their own. It is the goal of therapists and special education teachers to keep these students engaged and open to learning.

“I have seen great improvements during my students’ music therapy sessions,” said Julie Muffley, Special Education/Life Skills Teacher at Truitt Middle School. “I have worked with Ann about 13 years. It is very important to keep the students engaged, and the music helps do that.”

This April, Ann was awarded the 2013 Harmony Award for outstanding and significant contributions to her profession by the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association (SWAMTA). The award honors SWAMTA members who have made outstanding and significant contributions to the profession in the areas of education, clinical practice, research or service.


About HCDE Therapy Services: Therapy Services division provides assessment, intervention, consultation, training and direct service to or on behalf of more than 5,000 children annually with disabilities or who are at risk of developmental delays. Therapy Services has a professional staff of over 140 specialists that include music therapists, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. These specialists work with children and families from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds in their communities, schools and homes throughout the county.


Carol E. Vaughn, Communications/Media Relations Manager

713-696-0756 office, 281-660-9205 cell

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