Thursday, July 23, 2020

‘Cummer Museum’ helps special needs students through virtual program

“The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens” and “Connecting Thru Music” (CTM) have partnered to provide a unique learning opportunity for children with special needs enrolled in Duval County Public Schools’ Extended School Year (ESY) program: a three-week virtual series, “Live from the Cummer: Connecting Art and Music.” Music therapists from CTM’s partner, First Coast Music Therapy, along with Cummer Museum educators, will host two 30-minute classes, twice weekly.  During each class, these students and their families have the opportunity to explore the Museum’s artwork and galleries through lively and fun music interventions.

The virtual explorations, which launched on July 7, are presented live through Microsoft Teams at 11 a.m. and again at 11:30 a.m. for two different groups of ESY students, based on their ages and abilities. Each session includes a brief curated art tour (approximately five minutes) led by a Museum educator and information about the themes presented in the museum gallery. The music therapists engage the ESY students for approximately 20 minutes with songs connected to the theme and artwork. Additionally, these students receive art-making ideas that their families can work on together at home.

“We are focused on the need for a flexible and creative approach so that the children will have this unique opportunity to learn during these challenging times,” said Karen Demuth, Executive Director of CTM. “The added benefit of their parents being present because it is virtual adds a positive experience and promotes learning, bonding and fun.”

For many families, the summer break is a critical time to maintain the gains students have realized during the school year. “During these uncertain and stressful times, it’s more important than ever for the Cummer Museum to support the diverse needs of our local community,” said Kim Kuta Dring, Director of Education for the Cummer Museum. “This partnership provides students with differing abilities and their families with access to high quality artworks and experiences that promote self-expression, wellness and family stability – all important aspects of a child’s healthy growth and development.”

About the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens: For almost 60 years, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens has been committed to engaging and inspiring through the arts, gardens, and education. A permanent collection of more than 5,000 objects and historic gardens on a riverfront campus offers nearly 150,000 annual visitors a truly unique experience on the First Coast. Nationally recognized education programs serve adults and children of all abilities. For further information, including hours, visit The Cummer Museum.

About Connecting Thru Music: Connecting Thru Music is a 501c3 that partners with First Coast Music Therapy to provide music therapy with board certified music therapists and related music services which enhance the cognitive, social, emotional, physical, development growth of the children with special needs throughout Duval County and the Northeast Region of Florida. For more information, visit

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