My First Experience Teaching an Autistic Student

by Lee
(Singapore)

Hi..

I am currently assigned to teach a teenage autistic student. In our previous lesson, I did not know that she was autistic and used a book from Alfred's for Adults Beginner (book 1). After that particular lesson, I realised that she couldn't catch up the lesson very well. So, I'm currently still wondering what method I should use to teach and at the same time not making her not interested with piano.
Thanks

Lee

Hi, Lee,

If she is a beginner, not reading notes, then I think the Adult Beginner book of ANY series would not be the best one for her. The music the series chooses may be very uninteresting to her.

You may be thinking that a book aimed at a young child would insult her, and that is possible... but I wouldn't necessarily rule it out. The important thing is to get her playing music and feeling like music is coming out of her fingers!

Ideally, I would show her 3 or 4 different books (if your budget can accomodate that). If a faster-moving book does seem called for (and no cutesy animals are desired) then have a look at
Faber's Piano Adventures course, the Accelerated course for the older beginner. If, on the other hand, she seems to need LOTS of repetition, I would go with a newer course I have been using mostly as an adjunct to other method books, The Perfect Start for Notereading.

Along with a book, I'd offer her lots of single-page easy songs to go into a binder or notebook, and lots of chord-style songs. Hunt around my website in the Beginner piano stuff to see what I mean; just playing chords on the piano is very fun for kids, and requires no reading.

Check out other free sheetmusic sites, such as Susan Paradis's pages. She has pre-reading music notation for some of her songs.

Aside from "What books do I use?" you will be learning a lot as you teach this girl what you know! Read all you can, and good luck!

Dana

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Resource for Teaching Piano to Autistic Students
by: conyersmusicteacher

This is a great resource for working with people with autism:

www.autisticpianoexpress.com

I should add that I have a child with autism (I teach voice and guitar, not piano), and I think this teacher has great insight into this disability. My son just recently started playing piano by himself, and I think much of what this teacher says about how people with autism learn and his approach are right on target.

Dana:

Very interesting website. I have downloaded one of the free book samples, and they are quite different from ordinary method books. I'm going to spend some time looking at these - thanks for letting us know!

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