Voices Together: Music Therapy and Autism in Elementary Schools

Examining a music-based therapy for children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities is the second research initiative in collaboration with Duke University’s Bass Connections.

The research will measure the efficacy of the Voices Together program model in public school exceptional children’s classrooms.  This study will measure language and social outcomes in students participating in Voices Together music therapy programs.

Preliminary Results

The behavior probe data show a significant increase in socialization and communication at both the mid-point and end-point of the intervention, compared to the same amount of time prior to the start of the intervention. 

Research Team

  • Principal Investigator:  Dr. Carol Ripple, Associate Director for Education Research & Engagement for the Education and Human Development Incubator (EHDi) is the principal investigator.
  • Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Director of The Autism Center at Duke University
  • Dr. Jan Riggsbee, Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of the Duke TeachHouse
  • Lorrie Schmid Research Data Infrastructure Manager for the Education and Human Development area of SSR.
  • Undergraduate students: Page Scarborough, Giselle Graham, Roshni Prakash and Xin Tong Lim.

The Project is in Partnership with Alamance-Burlington School District.

Learn more about this project.


Voices Together: Music Therapy and Autism in Elementary Schools

A Bass Connection Pilot Project lead by Dr. Geraldine Dawson as Principal Investigator studied the efficacy of Voices Together in Education program in public school special education classrooms. Learn more.


“A study conducted in Durham Public Schools by Duke researchers in 2015 showed that provision of the Voices Together program resulted in significant increases in communication skill among children with developmental disabilities. The mean improvement reflected a change from one word to phrase speech.”

-Dr. Geraldine Dawson
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Pediatrics, Psychology and Neuroscience
Director, Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development
Duke University School of Medicine
Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Journal article written, submitted and pending publication.


A Novel Intervention To Improve Communication Skills And Vocational Success For Adults With Autism And Other Developmental Disabilities

A yearlong pilot program and research study in collaboration with Duke University and the Ireland Family Foundation to evaluate Voices Together specialized music-based educational and therapeutic program for people with Developmental Disabilities in a vocational setting.


Pilot Study To Investigate The Efficacy Of Voices Together Methodology In Increasing Communication And Social Interaction Skills In Teens With Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities

This pilot research project headed by Dr. Melissa Miller, professor of Special Education, and Dr. Daniel Huff Ph.D., professor in the Music Education from UNC-CH School of Education, Special Education and Music Education took place in the Durham Public Schools.  Researchers observed improvement in the initiation of language and social integration skills during the 14 weeks of treatment.




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