Thursday, March 10, 2011

5 Reasons to Add the Piano to Your Child's IEP

IEPs or Individualized Education Plans often focus on the much needed, core educational requirements of your child with special needs. It is very important that you are part of this process and provide your input as well. Since the piano is both fun and educational it can be a great way to motivate your child with autism. Here are five reasons to consider this:

1) It's Fun!
Adding a less rigid and ultimately more expressive activity to your child's IEP can really motivate them. While there are basics to learn, music is about exploration and expression.

2) It's Educational!
Playing the piano requires you to focus. This time spent attending to instructional material can gradually be increased and benefit other educational programs. When your child learns to read music this also closely mirrors other skills associated with classical Reading and Writing programs.

3) It promotes inclusion.
While most IEPs and all public education programs include more traditional subjects such as Math, choosing to play the piano is not as common. This allows your child to form relationships with other music-minded peers and share something in common. Creating these opportunities by finding social groups and/or musical activities such as performances can help develop these connections.

4) It helps with generalization.
The piano, much like traditional educational subjects, needs to be practiced and reviewed at home as well. Students with autism often have challenges associated with generalization. Adding another skill that can be brought home and developed; in a new environment, using different materials (i.e. another keyboard/piano) and taught by a different teacher, all help to promote your child's ability to generalize what they learn.

5) It develops fine-motor skills.
Writing skills and many general life skills require a certain degree of fine-motor development. Learning to play the piano can gradually increase these skills by introducing concepts such as correct fingering and playing with both hands. When using ABA style instruction, these techniques can be broken down and 'errorlessly' introduced. While learning the basics of the piano is often straight-forward, the difficulty level can grow with your child and provide endless challenges and opportunities for fine-motor development.

The piano can offer all of these things and even though some students will not continue lessons into adulthood, it may open doors to other fun and challenging areas. Many of our students begin to explore singing or other instruments after being introduced to the piano. Exploring the possibilities of having your school include the piano in your child's IEP can jump-start a discussion on exploring what artistic endeavors may be in their future!

About the author:

Mr. Jeffrey Young is the President and Founder of Innovative Piano, Inc. Mr. Young has published over 17 books dealing with music and autism. To learn more about the author and the program please visit

Innovative Piano, Inc.
Offering piano lessons for students with autism - Nationwide!

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