With Aspergers Kids, Try singing your instructions and using videos

by georginamca

I have a very musical child with Aspergers - perfect pitch, good pianist and excellent harpist. She is just 11 now. Only goes to school part time - she is very gifted but with high sensory needs. She struggles with the differences between her two music teachers (the harp one likes parents very involved but the piano one doesnt).

The instructions from the piano one that I have to interpret (as I am not in the lesson) are not nearly detailed enough! She says things like - "make a more dramatic climax" in the note book.

Lucky I have grade VIII on 2 instruments or my daughter wouldn't have a clue about that. She needs something like - bar 15-24 gradual increase in tension - look at my markings on sheet - to high point with slight pause on minim in bar 24.

She loves me to play her piano pieces and record them if there is not a CD (most of her repertoire is classical so we are OK for most recordings). I put them on her ipod and she loves to listen over and over again. Shame the first version of Prelude in C she heard was Richard Clayderman while she browsed itunes!!! Taken me weeks to get the emphasis back to the first note of each bar....

Video is fantastic - I video the lessons she has with a great harpist occasionally (lives in another city from us) and we love to use these.

I struggle with her expecting me to be there all the time - the harp is so technical and prone to tension/injury that both teachers encourage huge input from me. She is less keen to go it alone even on piano where her technique is sound.

In her more stroppy younger days it was very useful to sing instructions to her. Try it with your non verbal students. Simple phrase repeated many times - eg time to pack up now, now,now, now to the tune of Brian Boru or something suitable. They often join in.

Teach the notes via the Glen Doman method for reading. LARGE flashcards. White with thick black lines and one note on each. Make a game out of them, one at a time, have them round the floor - "fetch me a C" reward if tries, "fetch me an E" then make little tunes up out of the card and sing their name etc. to the notes. Mine loved making up her own ones instead of all cows eat grass and every good boy deserves fudge etc.

It is great that so many people are prepared to think outside their usual box to help our ASD kids. This is not true for most teachers I am afraid in my experience.


Thanks for the ideas based on real experience, Georgina! I hadn't thought of singing instructions as a strategy, though I have done it just for fun. Makes good sense. These ideas will be very helpful.

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Development and Progress When Students Reject New Music
by: Anonymous

I have a young pupil aged 6, possibly AS, and when I first suggest moving onto a new piece, she immediately rejects the idea, before she has heard it!! How do you think she will develop as a harpist, which is a complex solo instrument and even in orchestra, often very exposed.


Hi, Anonymous,

There are lots of kids with whom you have to SNEAK UP on them when you want to give them a new song. A couple of ways that work for me:

"Here's something I want to do today - don't worry, it won't be on your lesson sheet; we're just going to play it together today..." and then re-visit it again the next week or later. This is particularly good when there is a new technique involved that might seem overwhelming at first. Duets can be a fun way to practice these techniques with no pressure.

Another approach: "Today I'm going to give you something new and I'm not even going to ask if you like it! If you like it, fine, if you don't like it, well, I'm sorry but we will be working on this anyway, because it is important for you..."

Yes, sometimes you just can't give them the option of saying no... but it won't be too traumatic if you are the kind of teacher who DOES allow free choice for a good part of the time!

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