Music: Breaking Down Boundaries and Uniting People
Breaking Down Boundaries and Uniting People
Did you know that music is the only written language that is the same anywhere in the world? Music does not care what your race is, what language you speak, how old you are, or what physical or intellectual disabilities you have. I wanted to explore real stories of how Music is impacting the special needs community to break down barriers and unite to accomplish one common goal.
FREE Players Drum & Bugle Corp in New York City.
“How Music Impacts”
I had to start my journey with knowing the benefits of learning to play music. My search led me to YouTube and a video about the Octopus Music School in New Jersey, a music school that caters to teaching music to individuals of all ages with various developmental disabilities like Autism and Down Syndrome. Some are as young as three. Students there can receive one-on-one lessons to learn general music, piano, guitar, drums, voice and strings.
I asked Joseph Fekete, Director of Octopus Music school, to shed light on how music has impacted his students. Here is what he said.
One of our first very young students (under five years of age when he began), who started with our general music curriculum almost three years ago, is now a full-fledged piano student. He is reading notes on the staff, using both hands, and learning our beginner repertoire of songs. It is absolutely amazing to see a child with a disability grow and gain abilities that once seemed so far away and to know that it was our amazing instructors who helped him get there.
What benefits do you see that music has on the special needs community?
In addition to all of the benefits that everyone reaps from learning to play music such as the calming effect of music and having a creative outlet with which to express oneself, students with special needs learn important communication skills and develop their fine and gross motor functions.
I have always wanted to learn how to play the piano but have been intimidated by having to learn to read music notes. How do your students handle the task of learning this foreign but universal language?
With some of our students, especially the younger ones, we use other multi-sensory strategies to relate melodies and rhythms instead of traditional notes on a staff. Many students however have no problem interpreting standard notation, but we are careful to make sure that we are utilizing the approach that is best for the individual.
How does learning music affect the confidence and social aspect of your students?
One-on-one instruction creates a situation in which a student must remain engaged with his or her teacher, thus creating a highly social and interactive environment. Because students and instructors are often working on playing a piece of music together, there is an increased level of communication out of sheer necessity which over time, really makes a marked difference in students’ ability and confidence in socializing with others. It allows students to learn a skill that many of their typical peers are also learning.
To learn more about the Octopus Music School visit www.octopusmusicschool.com
“They have inspired people all over the world to see them for who they really are, and not what disabilities
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