Kodi Lee Wins, Parents Asking About Piano Lessons for Autistic Students

He’s got perfect pitch. He is 22, and sings with a rasp and vibrato through that last high note. Kodi’s piano accompaniment shows off technical precision that stole my heart. 

Kodi Lee just won the 2019 America's Got Talent competition

Kodi Lee won the 2019 America’s Got Talent competition

He’s also blind and autistic, and Kodi Lee just won the 2019 America’s Got Talent competition, and I WAS THERE IN HOLLYWOOD TO SEE IT! #heckyeah

Henny Kupferstein with Kodi Lee’s piano teacher YiYi Ku, at America’s Got Talent finals

Autistic people have talent, and nearly all autistic people have perfect pitch (read my research study). Autistic musical savants like myself want to be recognized for musical talent, the practice time we devote to showcasing perfection, and the music theory training that helps us fit in to a group of quality musicians, because we are usually the strongest one in the room

Kodi’s win made parents and teachers think about autistic talent, and now everyone wants piano lessons for their autistic child. 

Autistic's Got Talent (fake pose)

All my piano students are autistic. Every autistic piano student should have equal access to the arts, whether they are nonverbal, blind, or poor motor skills. We can all do it, because we have the gift. But do all piano teachers have the gift to teach? 

Current research is critical to work with a demographic that is misunderstood by mainstream education. Those who put together homegrown curriculum and color-basedprograms are truly demonstrating incompetent teaching skills. Teaching down to the diagnosis is a form of discrimination, and parents need to learn how to recognize a poor teacher-student relationship.

How to Know if Your Autistic Child’s Piano Teacher Is Trained for the Job

  1. The teacher will begin the lessons even if the student does not have an appropriate instrument in their home
  2. The teacher plays all assignments for the student, and then teaches by rote
  3. The teacher assigns scales and flashcard work for home practice
  4. The teacher does not hold a 4-year music degree from a nationally accredited institution.
  5. The teacher focuses on correcting posture and finger shape more times than the student is playing during the lesson.
  6. The teacher’s rates are below market rate for professional services in your region
  7. The teacher refuses to teach online (skype/facetime) to accommodate the student
  8. The teacher uses “student with autism” or “definitely has a spectrum disorder” language without regard for the prevailing preference of autistic people to be called primarily “autistic”
  9. The teacher talks slow, loud, and with vocabulary that feels infantilizing.
  10. The teacher is not autistic, and therefore, cannot serve as a positive role model. 

Thankfully, I’ve done the work for you! 

Henny Kupferstein posing with a fake Hollywood star

Piano teachers looking for an evidence-based piano pedagogy, read about my professional training program for LDME™ Training – Developmental Music Education™ Training  to  become a licensed developmental music educator®

Research Study about autism and perfect pitch: Non-Verbal Paradigm for Assessing Individuals for Absolute Pitch Kupferstein, H., & Walsh, B. J. (2016). Non-Verbal Paradigm for Assessing Individuals for Absolute Pitch. World Futures, 72(7-8), 390-405. [PDF]

Parents who want to learn more about piano lessons for autistic and nonverbal students using a method that guarantees these goals through neuroplastic changes, BOOK A CONSULT and let’s set a time to talk.

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Kaegan – Nonverbal perfect pitch piano matching test

Kaegan (21) is able to demonstrate perfect pitch during his 3rd piano lesson, thanks to the piano matching test. Did you know that 97% of autistic people have perfect pitch? (Kupferstein & Walsh, 2015). One obvious clue that it was time to test him came when Kaegan was singing the notes just from reading it, even before he heard it played from the piano. Please read about the nonverbal paradigm research study and the Rancer Method book for teaching music to gifted students, titled Perfect Pitch in the Key of Autism.

Source:

Kupferstein, H., & Walsh, B. J. (2015). Non-Verbal Paradigm for Assessing Individuals for Absolute Pitch. World Futures72(7-8), 390-405.

“Can perfect pitch be a problem when teaching note-reading to piano students?” Interview with Dima Tahboub

In this interview with Dima Tahboub of DoReMeStudio.com, we discuss how the Rancer Method builds neurological pathways to have magnify the gift of perfect pitch. Instead of the gift being a problem, there are surprising byproducts of the neuroplastic changes and visual motor cohesion, changes in eye tracking, and explosions in speech and vocalization.

Henny Kupferstein is the co-author of Perfect Pitch in the Key of Autism, the book on the Rancer Method designed to teach note-reading for gifted students.

Teaching V7 Chords Using Solfege for Perfect Pitch Students

First, captivate the ear-based learner who craves sound. Keep pushing the ear a bit more. Now, reinforce the sound with the note clusters on the page. You must validate the fact that V7 inversions are missing a note, because their ear will ‘go crazy’ and point out the value of chord inversions. Once you have integrated the eyes with the ears, tie it all up as ‘visual shapes’ and ‘sound shapes’. Finally, wrap up with theory work (chord labeling, etc.). Always give constant reminders of their gift, each week.

 

See more piano pedagogy videos: https://hennyk.com/piano-pedagogy-videos-how-to-teach/

Book-image

JOIN THE FAN CLUB! The Rancer Method – Teaching Piano to Gifted and Special Needs Students – FaceBook group for piano teachers and educators who are applying the Rancer Method in their practice.

 

 

 

Autism Motivation and Perfection Anxiety: Teaching to the Gift of the Perfect Pitch

“Perfect Pitch in the Key of Autism” Book interview with co-author Henny Kupferstein by Stacy McVay from Smiles and Symphonies in Memphis Tennessee.

“Perfect Pitch in the Key of Autism” Book interview with co-author Henny Kupferstein by Stacy McVay from Smiles and Symphonies in Memphis Tennessee.

  1. “How do we motivate autistic students in and outside of piano lessons?”
  2. “How does the gift of perfect pitch translate to other areas and skill-sets?”

More links:

 

Autism Society Youth Chorus

The Autism Society’s Youth Chorus pilot program was started in Winter 2013 under the direction of Henny Kupferstein.   The following videos can give you some insight into our work together.

“What We Learned” – ASA Youth Chorus – 2013-2014
The Autism Society’s Youth Chorus in a video scrapbook of lessons learned in the weekly rehearsals.

“Let It Go” with Mikey and Olivia
Interactive music-making is a piece of cake when collaborating with perfect pitch possessors.

Autism Society Youth Chorus Thursday night rehearsal

Music Sessions

I teach non-verbal and autistic students to develop their musical gift in a permanent and dignified way. Through evidence-based piano pedagogy for perfect pitch students, there is no fear of rejection because of “behavior problems”.

Strength-based abilities system: What comes before “D”?  If you answered “C”, then you are ready to learn sight-reading for piano.  Beginners and all level of abilities and special needs are welcome.  My specialized method is designed to empower all individuals through piano mastery. Non-verbal and autistic homeschooled students with special needs and/or perfect pitch thrive from piano lessons.

Scientific-based methodology – The neurobiology of auditory learning accessed during music instruction stimulates language-based skills necessary for educability. All humans are capable of benefiting from this specific methodology, especially non-verbal and autistic clients with enhanced musicality.

Why Piano? Teaching sight-reading for piano in the classical tradition empowers non-verbal autistic individuals to demonstrate intellect through music.  Because most autistic people have perfect pitch, this process rapidly enriches their daily lives, and carries over to all areas of academia. The moment this can be observed by others, such individuals are recognized as worthy of regular education.

Can I get smarter by listening to Mozart music every day?  “Nobody ever got fit watching spectator sports.” Making the music, rather than listening to recordings, “transforms your nervous system” and makes you a better learner” (DR. NINA KRAUS (2013) Neurobiologist , Northwestern University, California).

In my music sessions, I address the following goals:

    1. Cognitive Development:

      1. Increase attention span.

      2. Develop orientation to the environment.

      3. Executive Function Skills 1
    2. Motor Development:

      1. Increase physical coordination.

      2. Improve dexterity and flexibility.

      3. Increase gross and fine motor skills.

      4. Develop hand-eye coordination.

      5. Develop motor-planning skills.

  1. Perceptual Development:

    1. Increase auditory discrimination skills

    2. Develop auditory concepts.

    3. Improve convergence insufficiency
  2. Social Development:

    1. Enriched communication skills.

    2. Enriched group skills

  3. Affective development

    1. Increase self-esteem and self-confidence.

    2. Bring about creative self-expression through music.

CLICK TO SEE MORE VIDEOS

Tobi (5), Non-Verbal Autistic, vocalizing for the first time with the help of the music

Tobi (5), Non-Verbal Autistic, vocalizing for the first time with the help of the music

oliver

SEE VIDEO “There is so much to tell you, really. How I found this awesome, incredible teacher. How she recognizes his strengths and teaches to them. How she effortlessly assumes his competency even when I’m still not sure! How she totally gets how he processes information. How I always leave a lesson thinking: Well, this next step is going to be hard! And then how it totally isn’t even a fraction as hard as I imagined! Just thinking about it makes me want to explode with happiness. Happiness for Oliver in his achievement and happiness that I could finally help him do something he has wanted for so long.” ~ Oliver’s Mom, on All About the Music blog

molly

“By the third week of her lessons, Molly was a changed person. Empowered by recognition of her creativity, she was able to deal with the bullying at school”.


One autistic boy’s progress: From screaming, to playing, to note-reading in 3 weeks

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