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Spring 2022 MECA, Summer 2021 MECA, Summer 2022 MECA

Continuing Education Courses


Poverty, Barriers, Music & Success: Understanding & Helping Low-Income Music Students Succeed


June 6-July 31, 2022

Course Code



3 Graduate Credits


$1,065, due in full with registration


For some students and families, financial and time barriers are a limiting factor in their participation in school music. There are many labels available to describe students without a lot of money and/or support: Low-income, high needs, underserved, less fortunate, poor, poverty-stricken and impoverished are just a few. In a pandemic world, we may see more families afflicted by poverty, and therefore, we must be prepared to help our students and community.

This course will help teachers to understand where low-income and high-needs students are coming from, present strategies and ideas to help with teaching, supporting, and advocating for students from low-income and high need situations, and will help instructors develop plans to locate financial resources for their students and programs. Every student deserves a good teacher and a fair chance at success, and band, orchestra, choir and general music can be offered to all students.


Chat Session

TBD with participants once the course has commenced.



Required Text(s)

Recommended Text (Not Required): High Needs, Monumental Successes: Teaching Music To Low-Income and Underserved Students, Don Stinson, GIA Publications. Link:

Software/Hardware Requirements

Schoology is a learning management system that allows you to interact directly with your instructors, fellow students, and members of the greater VanderCook community.

Soon after you register, be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you receive credentials, visit to login. 

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

More information about Schoology can be found at

Online course grades are available within two weeks of the course(s) completion.  If you need a transcript, please CLICK HERE to access the online transcript request form. For a faster turnaround time, please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


Don headshot

Don Stinson

Don Stinson is the director of bands at Joliet Central High School, only the fifth director in the band’s 110-year history. A Joliet native, Don has the distinct pleasure of leading a program that serves a diverse population in socioeconomic status and cultural backgrounds. Joliet’s nickname is “The City of Champions,” derived from the numerous awards and accolades earned by the band, including National Championships judged by John Philip Sousa, presidential performances, and numerous state and national performances. The band has appeared nineteen times at the prestigious University of Illinois Superstate Festival, including fourteen performances as honor band/honor band selection. In 2020, the band was invited to perform on stage at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center in New York as a solo act. Stinson earned an associate degree from Joliet Junior College, a Bachelor of Music Education degree at VanderCook, an MMEd degree at Northern Illinois University, a Masters in Education Leadership Degree and the University of St. Francis, and is a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification teacher. He holds five Citations of Excellence from the National Band Association. In 2019 he received the Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award from the Quinlan and Fabish Music Company. In 2021 he was named one of Yamaha’s 40 Under 40 Music Educators and is a 2021 winner of the Dr. William P. Foster Project Community Development Award. He is a member of the Phi Beta Mu International Bandmaster’s Fraternity, the National Band Association, the American School Band Directors Association, and the Illinois Music Educators Association. Don hosts the music education podcast The Bandmasters Podcast. He is the author of High Needs, Monumental Successes: Understanding: Teaching Music to Low-Income and Underserved Students, available from GIA Publications. In addition, he is the president and founder of Legacy Fine Arts Inc. NFP, a not-for-profit that provides lessons, mentoring and programs for underserved youth. For more information, please visit
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The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

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