Teaching Piano to an Autistic Seven-Year-Old Who Plays by Ear
I thought my 7 yr. old little Autistic piano student was progressing really well. I started with teaching her the number method. She learned all the songs so fast and memorized them.
Now I have just started trying to teach her the lines and spaces, and once she hears a few notes or plays the entire piece she doesn't need to read the music any more.
She does not like me teaching her the lines and spaces and I lose her attention. I would love to get any suggestions on how I can get her to focus long enough to learn the lines or spaces. Perhaps she is too young to begin reading music. She is sooo smart and retains everything. If anyone has some ideas please send it my way. Darlene: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope some others will send you ideas! My own suggestions would include:
If she can change activities often without getting distressed or distracted, move away from the piano and draw lines and spaces on a board. Find a way to turn it into a game. (This takes some imagination for me!)
Start with 2 flashcards, then 3, then 4, etc., (have a look at my Giant Flashcards on the Music Education Tools page) and let her "Whack!" the one you name ("Which note is higher up the ladder/staff?").
Look at my Wormies and Snakes sheetmusic. They don't sound like music, so they are hard to memorize. If she does memorize them, turn them upside down and have her play the "new" Wormie or Snake.
Just relax and take it slow. She doesn't have to read overnight; every student is different.
Have you looked around at other pages on this site regarding autistic kids? There's a lot of good suggestions offered here. One book I've acquired recently that slow readers are having success with is called "The Perfect Start for Notereading," by Kevin and Julia Olson. There are pages and pages with the same 2 notes over and over, then 3 notes, then 4 notes, etc., with CD accompaniment and cute lyrics. It's pretty cute, and I use it as a supplement.
But have a look at what Dave says below regarding the use of chords. This should really be the primary part of the lesson with a student who isn't reading yet. Chords are fun and easy to use, and make kids feel like real piano players. Hunt around my early Beginning Piano songs for tips on how to use them.