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#32472 - 12/31/06 07:00 PM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
My autistic student is 5 and we've been trying for 4 weeks now. So he's not at the level that you have been explaining. We are still trying to work at small things that I take for granted in my regular students, like having him repeat the things that I play, or having him repeat my rhythms. Progress is very slow of course, but it's fun to see small changes each week.

How old is your student and how long have they been learning the piano?

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#32473 - 01/04/07 07:53 AM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
At this time, I have two autistic students. Both high level - both about 9 years old. They have both been taking from me for about a year and a half. One of them displays few of the usual autistic mannerisms, but sometimes has a major attitude problem. I never know which "person" is coming in the door.

The other, has many of the usual autistic problems so he is a real challenge to work with. He is very tuned in to "being good" so I usually have to employ something along that line to gain his cooperation. Sometimes I use small rewards, sometimes when he is uncontrollable, I have him sit in a chair and count to 10 to calm himself. He dislikes being asked to sit away from the piano and he usually returns ready to listen. He never, never looks at his books or assignments during the week. Once I discovered that, I began working more on teaching him theory and rote pieces - hoping that his fingers and ears will automatically reach for the correct notes. So far it's working. What are some of the particular things you are attempting? What has been successful? and what has not? (so far)

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#32474 - 01/05/07 03:34 AM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student
Mishee Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/31/06
Posts: 5
I have two young sons with high functioning autism and have worked with others. A lot of these kids have sensory issues. Sometimes if their "autism" gets in the way of learning, it is good to get them away from the piano and have them do a physical activity to help them regulate or regroup.
For example, My 4 yo can't sit for too long to work on a project that requires a lot of fine motor skills. He will often be put on an exercise ball and be bounced for a few minutes. Then he will be able to go back and finish a task. It sounds silly but these kids often have lots of "quirks" that the rest of us don't understand.
Kids with ASD are usually strong visual learners and have kean auditory skills when it comes to music. Also autistics tend to be very musical but at the same time have auditory processing issues where the "wiring from their brain to their ears and mouths is not working properly.

My older son (6yo) takes piano lessons. One of the things that helps is to point and sing the notes before he actually sits down to play the song. I know some teachers think this is useless but it helps ASD kids to see the music and hear the notes. At the same time it becomes rote and in his "quirky" way he learns to recognize the notes. My son is great at reading the notes on the grand staff but when we look at flash cards of just one staff and the note, he can't name it.

Anyway, as a parent of two kids with asd, I can tell you that it means a lot to the parents that you're teaching their kids. Most people would not want to attempt to even try.

Anyway it sounds like you're on the right track....Just keep it fun. Keep your sense of humor. Don't expect less of these students, just remember it might take longer to get there.
Good Luck

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#32475 - 01/08/07 04:15 PM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
My situation is still so new to me and him that it's hard to say if piano is really going to be a go or not. (I think that with time it will be) It seems that there is little steps of progress each week, and I think that it's mostly because he is getting to know me and getting used to the routine.

My short-term goal is to get him to play around more on the piano. He loves to play high-C over and over. I am succussful if I put stickers on the keys. When I introduced the black notes with the black-note songs in "My First Piano Adventure", I put blue stars on the groups of threes that I wanted him to play. He thought that was so great, you could see the excitement. So with each song, I've started by showing him the keys that we'll be playing that day with the stickers. I'm discovering also that he'll copy or repeat after me, so learning a song by rote maybe successful. Last week, we went back to "Twinkle, Twinkle" in the lesson book and I put all gold stars on the keys that we used. I showed him what song we would be playing, and he pushed my hands away and began to try himself. He's so funny this way, because I can see some of his personality coming out. Things like wanting to be independent and wanting to do things by himself without help, just like my 3 year old son! Boy, what a treat! I actually know how to deal with that!

Another thing that we did two weeks ago...kind of by accident, is that I showed him the inside of the piano. I do not have a grand, I have an upright, so he was looking under the keyboard at the hammers moving as he played his high C. I too the front out, and boy was he excited to see the strings and a most of the action going on inside! He sat there for 10 minutes pushing every key over and over, up and down the keyboard!

So, things are going well. His parents have reservations about learning the notes of the piano (the alphabet), because he's been taught solfege, so I'm not sure what to do next.

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#32476 - 01/08/07 04:20 PM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
 Quote:
My older son (6yo) takes piano lessons. One of the things that helps is to point and sing the notes before he actually sits down to play the song. I know some teachers think this is useless but it helps ASD kids to see the music and hear the notes. At the same time it becomes rote and in his "quirky" way he learns to recognize the notes. My son is great at reading the notes on the grand staff but when we look at flash cards of just one staff and the note, he can't name it.
Thanks for that idea, I'll try it so I can get him to look at the book more. He loves to look at it, but when at the piano it's far from his mind.

Thank you for the encouragement too, it really helps.

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#32477 - 01/08/07 05:53 PM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student
Mishee Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/31/06
Posts: 5
It sounds like the two of you are having fun. That's probably the most important thing he's experiencing. You said he's 5....So he might be that age "academically" but in reality might have the maturity of your 3 yo. My 6 yo has no problem with K level school work. Emotionally he's more like a 4-5 yo.

Whether or not he's going to stick with it....Well, my motto when working with special needs kids is "Aim for Carnegy Hall, but being able to play for Grandma is ok too!"

Remember like you said, Take it slow. Repetition Is the key. The "stuff" you teach will eventually "stick". And with time, it will stick more quickly.
Autistics do real well with motivators (incentives). Letting look inside the piano is a great one.

As for solfege, my son uses solfege with a fixed "Do". It hasn't hindered him from playing. It was something I had to get used to at first, but now I know it well. If your student knows solfege, I would treat him like a transfer student to see what he does know...Then go from there.
With lower functioning ASD kids, it's not uncommon to use some of their stims or "quirks" to make a connection with them by going into their world...By building a bond therapists will then begin to add a little variation to an activity to get a child to learn. Maybe try this with your little guy. Start with solfege and eventually move out. We did that with my son. We learned a little chant and motions to equate the Solfege names with the ABCs. We did it A LOT. Now he knows his ABCs (LOL) but still uses the solfege name as well. I figure as long as he knows what he's doing and he's playing the correct notes....(well, sometimes that's more than I can say for my Neuro Typical students!!!!)

Sorry to be so long winded. Feel free to email me off line if you want more ideas or info. Overall, it sounds like you're going at it with the right attitude and rom the right angel..

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#32478 - 02/05/07 08:58 AM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
Lilla,
I found in my pile of music books that somebody gave me this huge collection of "Wee Sing" Books. They are by Pamela Cann Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp. Published by Price/Stern/Sloan. The copyright is 1982, but there have been lots of printings. Have you heard of them? They have many different books like "Silly Songs", "Folk songs" "Children's Songs" Each has a simple melody line with the words written in and the chord symbols above it. This may be a good help for you. I saw them at our library too, so I know that they are around. This may help...if you still need it.

Ginger

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#64397 - 12/02/13 01:37 AM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student [Re: Lilla]
Emily C Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 10/30/13
Posts: 19
http://www.pianoiseasy2.com/and http://www.pianoiseasy2.com/ are two really good sights to look at. I would give them a look.

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#64418 - 12/04/13 10:53 AM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student [Re: Emily C]
Jennifer Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 1403
Loc: AZ
Wendy Stevens has blogged about rote teaching a few times. Here is a helpful link that should take you to those posts...

http://www.composecreate.com/?s=rote
_________________________
www.FPSResources.wordpress.com
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#64424 - 12/05/13 03:10 AM Re: Rote Recommendations - Autistic Student [Re: Jennifer]
Emily C Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 10/30/13
Posts: 19
Jennifer thank you for posting that. The information is great for anyone to read. Autism is hard, you have to have a different appraoach with each child almost, because it affects children so differently.

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