“Every child has a different learning style and pace. Each child is unique, not only capable of learning, but also capable of succeeding.”
At Southport Piano / Music Academy we have several pupils who have additional needs and love working with these children to see what music can do for them. Music has been proven to be a great benefit to the whole person. Please scroll down to see some photos of students and examples of additional needs materials.
With our principal Claire, having a Son with autism and type one diabetes, working with additional needs has always been close to our hearts at the academy.
We believe that music can somehow transcend into our very deepest part of our being and do magical things! This is shown in dementia patients who can suddenly remember songs and words and how to play music when all other skills have significantly deteriorated.
Also there are autistic ‘savantes’ who cannot communicate well (sometimes mute) but can play and learn music amazingly with perfect pitch and memory recall. Students with stutters have also been known to sing with perfect free, none interrupted speech. We have learnt never to under estimate students no matter what their need. Sometimes children who are not so gifted academically can also flourish and have an aptitude for music and children who have been very withdrawn can express themselves through music. It really is such an honour to be involved in helping children reach their true potential and awaken an otherwise dormant or undiscovered talent.
We strongly believe that music is not confined to the notes on the page and there are many forms of learning music. Discovering what works well with each pupil is part of our job as teachers. Please also inform us of any Educational Needs plan that is being used at school too, or any tips and personal incentives. We are keen to use these in music lessons with a student-centred approach coming from parent, teacher and school working closely together.
We have taught music to children with hearing impairment, Down’s syndrome, William’s syndrome, Autism, Dyslexia, and many other disabilities. In today’s society we know there is a higher prevalence of additional needs diagnosis’s and more acceptance and understanding of conditions such as ADHD, ODD, PDA as well as anxiety disorders. For that reason, we want to be prepared for teaching music to children with these difficulties as much as possible. Many of us have undergone some training in these areas.
We believe music is a key factor in helping children to develop creativity from within. It is also brilliant for mental health and an aid in cognitive development. Some children who otherwise can’t sit still at school, for example, have been known to focus better since having lessons . Some enjoy improvisation and creating music as it involves the whole person and it gives a new emotional outlet. If some students struggle to concentrate for any length of time at the piano or with their instrument we use ‘quick fire’ activities to help keep engagement continuous. For children with dyslexia we have previously used coloured transparent sheets over music.
Many of our teachers have experience and qualifications in teaching children with additional needs, both in schools and 1-1 outside of schools. Our qualifications include: diplomas in understanding ASD, ADD & ADHD, understanding PTSD (Mind, Body, Breakthrough), BSL Level 2 (British Sign Language) and working in a deaf school, experience teaching music pupils with Down’s Syndrome and other brain disorders. Many have also taught in an S.E.N setting.
We also have had children with additional needs play and perform at our concerts.
Here's a photo of one of our pupils, Megan, who follows the adapted piano programme for additional needs (Occupational Octaves Piano). Megan is wearing the coloured rings which are used to help identify notes and correct finger positions:
Here is Joseph enjoying his piano lesson on his Graded exam. Joseph is in the autism base in his primary school with a 1-1 SEN teacher . He loves to make music himself too!
Examples of some of the additional needs materials we use: