As with singing, playing an instrument is known to release 'happy hormones'. For Autistic individuals and/or additional needs, learning piano is fun and rewarding - and also has many non-musical benefits.
Benefits of Playing Piano:
- development of fine-motor skills
- development of coordination and posture
- expressing creativity
- exploration of emotions in music;
- relaxation and stress release;
- developing a good sense of rhythm, also found to assist dyslexia;
- learning to read music can aid literacy and numeracy skills;
- improvement in focus and self-discipline
Piano lesson content:
Pianistic techniques include hand position, finger coordination and dexterity, right and left-hand independence, pedalling.
When first commencing lessons, students will work from a piano book and supplemented by other songs and exercises, selected for each student. Where possible, Melinda will aim to find songs that students really want to learn, however, technical development will determine which pieces are possible for a student's playing level.
Melinda uses a variety of piano methods, including Supersonics (made in Australia!), which has great appeal to piano students, with their cool and catchy tunes and exciting backing tracks, to play along with.
Where students express an interest, improvisation, composition, arranging and digital recording can be included in students' programs.
ASD-Specific Piano Methods:
There are a few international piano methods, speficially designed for individuals at the more severe end of the spectrum. Two such methods use colour-coding as a means for identifying music notes and piano keys. Another method is set out in an ABA style, which might interest parents with children in ABA early intervention programs, and would like piano to be included. Melinda is currently undertaking ABA training.
Where possible, students will be taught to read music, as it is a very useful skill. However, where a student is unable to read or learn music notation, or whereby reading music is significantly holding back the playing progress, Melinda is able to devise a program that is more aurally (ear) based, and where modelling is also a means for learning to play. It's important to note, that although playing through reading is the traditional model, not everyone learns in the same way - and it's the end result that really matters!
Singing in the Piano Lesson?:
All of Melinda's piano students are encouraged to sing in their lesson. Why? The most effective way to develop musicality is through singing. Even if initially reluctant, most students are happy to sing a little in the lesson.
Combined Piano and Singing Lessons:
Students are encouraged to do a combination of piano and singing in their learning program, as each skill helps the development of the other.
Do I Need a Piano at Home?
Yes, students need a piano or keyboard for home practice. Keyboards are generally fine as long as they are touch-sensitive (volume responds to how heavily a key is played) and have weighted keys (with the heavier feel of a piano). Parents are welcome to ask Melinda for keyboard/piano recommendations, according to budget.