Students with profound intellectual disabilities disorders (IDDs) have the right to participate in educational opportunities that recognize their unique resources and needs, as do all children. Because of their specific communication challenges, positive relationships with attentive communication partners are critical for success. In fact, the power of positive relationships in schools is recognized to be connected to student well-being more broadly. This article examines the case of one young man with profound IDD and his relationship with his music therapist using a duo-ethnographic informed paradigmatic case study. Video analysis based on multi-voice perspectives is used to generate hermeneutic phenome- nological findings to closely examine the relationship between a young man with profound IDD and a music therapist. The voices of four allied health researchers were also gathered to inform the authors’ construction of an informed commentary on the phenomenon. The results suggest that the essence lay in a combination of attentive, responsive and creative being with the other person over time. Four principles of musical engagement were identified in the video footage as critical to the meaningful relationships through music: the music therapist listens; the music therapist takes responsibility for structure; spontaneous initiation is sought from the young person; and the relationship is built over time. These concepts are contextualized within a discussion of student well-being that is underpinned by positive relationships and leads to students achieving their full potential within diverse school contexts.
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