"My child has autism; do you know of a teacher experienced with autism and music?"
I get this question a lot from parents anxious to give their son or daughter with autism music lessons.
So how do you go about finding one of those teachers experienced with both autism and music? (By the way, I do not think experience educating children with autism is a necessary prerequisite for fun and rewarding music lessons for your child; rather, a teacher's heart and the willingness to find solutions are the most important qualities for teaching students with autism.)
Here are the steps I would take:
Call the local schools and talk to music teachers.
Call the local churches and ask to speak to the musicians.
Call the local libraries and children's clubs such as tye Boys and Girls Club.
Find out who the homeschoolers are (the librarians will know) and talk to them.
Please read the following letter exchange for more tips on how to locate teachers. Take this information about Massachusetts, and apply it to where YOU live:
I have an 11 year old who is PDD (higher spectrum form of autisim). He loves playing with his brother's piano keyboard. His brother is taking lessons. It breaks my heart seeing him trying to play, but not know how to, and I don't know if he can be taught to play piano...
Do you know of any teachers in the south shore, MA area that can teach autistic kids piano? Please refer me to him/her?
Thanks for your help.
I live in Alaska, a long way from Massachusetts. But I spent some time on Google, and came up with a few autism organizations and societies.
I am sure there are local autism support groups as well, that you could hook into. Please take a look at these Massachusetts websites, and give them a call:
ArcMass .org has a page called Resources by Disability Type, with a number of links. As they say, "This web page connects you with related information and organizations with special expertise in that specific disability. These resources include national organizations and whenever available state resources in Massachusetts."
At the website of The May Institute, for example, you find this description of their music teacher and her approach:
"Annie Christian, M.Ed., is the music teacher at the May Center for Child Development in Randolph Mass., a specialized school for children with autism and other disabilities.
A licensed teacher of children with severe special needs, she holds a college degree in music education. 'We teach fundamentals about music,' she says. 'We break down concepts in a way students can master.' Using ABA methodology, she uses practice, reinforcement, and teaching in small steps in her instructional sessions.
"Annie teaches students to identify the difference between loud and soft sounds and high and low tones. She also introduces students to different musical instruments.
Her students are particularly drawn to the piano, drums, and bells. Using a color-coded method, she teaches her students to read music, including notes, rhythms, and beats. Many of her students learn to independently play songs on these instruments. She teaches her students to sing with the help of Curwen hand signs.
"Annie’s students are exposed to a variety of classical composers, including Mozart and Beethoven, and to many different genres and styles of music. Her group and individual sessions are guided by the National Standards for Music Education, the Massachusetts Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks, student’s individual education plan (IEP), and student’s individual preferences."
That sounds a little expensive to me, but I could be wrong!
So, no matter where you live, the US, Europe, or South Africa, locate online and call these associations and find out what they know.
As I suggested at the top of the page, call your local schools and talk to a music teacher and ask that person who he or she would recommend. A local college might also be a good source of information, as they will have students studying music, and child development, and education.
Don't take no for an answer. There are people who will be glad to teach & to help your son, but you must keep pushing. You are the best advocate he has.
Best of luck,
Dana at Music-for-Music-Teachers.com
More and more, there are national, state, and local autism support groups. The internet is such a wonderful asset; parents don't have to feel all alone.
Please visit these other pages with more information about actual teaching techniques that can be useful when teaching children with autism:
My Child Has Autism: How Can I Find a Music Teacher?
AutismOneMedia YouTube channel - a source of medical, legal, and political education
Autism & Interactive Toys, by Helen Nichols
All the first-year material I give my beginner students.
Piano keyboard sheets, scales, chords, note-reading exercises, and over 256 pages of music!
This beautiful song book for piano & voice "Esther, For Such a Time as This", available as a digital download, tells the riveting story of the time when Jews in ancient Persia faced a foe named Haman, and how a brave young queen risked her life to save her people.
A good choice for a singing story-teller, an operatic group, a short theater production, or a class of children!
This book is also available from Amazon as a paperback.
This book is available as a digital download from this site. Visit this page to see some free examples from the book.
It is also available from Amazon as a paperback!
This is the perfect easy start for little pianists.
And when they start reading white-key notes on the staff, this is a fun easy resource to say each week, "Choose a new black-key song at home this week and figure it out to show me next lesson!" They will be spending more time at the piano.
A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls.
The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.
With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.
Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!
Have you got experiences, insights, knowledge or just plain frustrations to share with others who teach music to these special kids? Perhaps you have books, articles, or websites to recommend, techniques you've found helpful, or a success story! Every additional bit of information is helpful to those seeking for solutions...
Click below to see stories or questions from other visitors to this page...
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Hi, I'm Dana! (Say that like "Anna".) I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.
Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.
You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.