Two Christmases ago we got a nice Yamaha keyboard, on which you can record music you play, all different sorts of instrumental and percussion sounds, you know the kind. For the first year it moved about the house looking for a place to land, but since last summer, we created a space off the living room where we have two sets of bongo drums; a basket of maracas, little tambourines and other small instruments; two trumpets (from K’s band years) and now the organ.
It’s always been a source of quiet amusement and understanding that Captain Oblivious prefers the pre-programmed music; you pick the number and it plays the same song every time, exactly the same, black and white, predictable. Ditto Boy’s attention span never lent itself to the organ, well, except for the percussion key that sounds like someone’s vomiting. That’s a favorite. And we’ve found he can bang on a drum for…maybe hours? straight (which lent itself to the Excedrin collection in the bathroom cabinet next door). But Little Miss, once she could tolerate the sound at all, has steadily been experimenting.
At first, she’d only use the basic piano tones, but now she favors marimba and harpsichord. She’s been playing more lately, sometimes just stringing notes together, composing something in her head, apparently.
Several months ago, her dad started printing out basic nursery rhyme songs for her to learn, inscribing the letters on the keys, and she has a repertoire of four or five songs. Today, she listened to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” twice; she experimented by ear once; she asked me how to play it and I picked it out. She watched once and had it. Cold.
So, thrilled she seems to have an affinity, I’m in a quandary. Do I start teaching her piano-lesson style, where she learns notes and “the correct” way to play? My husband and I both had piano lessons, so we could do this. But you know how autistic kids tend to fixate on a certain way things have to be done, and then they evermore must be done the same way? Is it a disservice to give her the program to digest, killing her willingness to experiment? Or do we let her continue to play with the thing, learning by ear or by casual contact, making her own little tunes?
I know music and music training is good for many reasons, including improvement of math performance, improvement of mental functioning after stroke and performance generally. I’d really like to hear from folk who’ve been through this. Formal training, or laissez-faire? What’s the right note?
(See a story that grew out of this post at: Firefox News)