As Owner/Teacher of Musical Mind Piano Studio and Director of MI Music Technology Camps and on Mercer Island, I have worked with children and adults for over 30 years teaching piano, composition, improvisation and music therapy. I have worked with children and adults with ADD, Bi-Polar disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, Down syndrome, and many children in the Autism Spectrum, from profoundly autistic and non-verbal, to high functioning Aspergers Syndrome. In addition, I have worked with blind children and partially deaf children.
In addition to my Steinway piano, I have found I have been teaching on and developing more programs for my Yamaha Clavinova, digital piano over the past 10 years. As a result of my research and development, I founded MI Music Technology Camps in 2005, which are currently held in the summer at Island Park Elementary School. We have found that children of all learning abilities are able to benefit from time and instruction using the digital piano.
As we found in our camps, children with Autism, Down syndrome and Tourette’s syndrome were successfully able to attend and integrate into our camps. As they spend time creating music while wearing headphones, they could create a private space and hear quality instruments and songs of all styles on the Clavinova. As there are two headphone jacks, and a microphone jack, the teacher could also wear headphones and enter their private space and assist with creating music, record the child’s music and add more layers and sounds to make a piece that met the child’s musical and personality. The piano has s guided light feature that allows the music to wait for the child to find the correct note and play along with the recorded music. The simplest song can sound powerful as the child is playing with an orchestra, or rock band. I have consistently noted that all campers were able to spend 20-30 minutes focused on making music, trying the 1000 sounds, or listening to music. This is a big achievement, especially for ADD and Autistic children. To increase the ability to sit and be engaged in a task for longer periods of time is always a goal of professionals working with children and ADD and Autism. (Example: listen to music on any of our Camp CD’s).
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