The following videos were taken during piano lessons and occupational therapy sessions from 2014 through 2017. For all students and clients, the lessons/sessions begin by focusing on the development of internal rhythm and timing, improving imitation and listening skills, coordinating left and right sides of the body, isolating the upper body (fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders), and identifying the keys and key patterns. Of course, when modulation or self-regulation difficulties are present, these processing inefficiencies are addressed first to ensure that the student or client is able to attend, acquire, and atain information.
To develop the students’ foundational and fundamental skills, students bounce on the therapy ball, sing, jump on the trampoline, play with hand-over-hand assistance, write the names of each key on the keyboard, move to music, play listening games, play and move to the beat, create pieces with stories and drawings, and use manipulatives on the keyboard.
Playing the piano is difficult. Students learn how to understand note values, play with the correct rhythm, identify keys, play with efficient finger isolation, and read music. Even more difficult, students need to put all of these skills together at the same time. For students who also have trouble with self-regulation, fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, and attention to task, playing the piano is even more daunting. However, many students with special needs connect with music.
Examples of Activities:
Listening and imitating patterns
Writing Note Names on the Keys
Reading and playing 8th notes, quarter notes, and half notes
Independently bouncing, listening, and singing I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
So many students I see make tremendous progress. I often see a tremendous improvement in language fluidity, coordination and timing, and body awareness. Developing these skills allows these students to explore new movements, gain self-confidence, and show improvement in high-level skill areas. The following examples illustrate progress students make using music and the piano from some of the first lessons/sessions.