Piano and Music Therapy for the Gifted Child:

ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and High IQ Children

Student having fun Christmas time
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Preschool Student
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Having fun Christmas Time in Studio

Student enjoying antlers at lesson
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Christmas time lesson main studio

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100  percent of the Academy’s students are Gifted and Talented (attend Pineview School for the Gifted, IB and AP). This is NOT a requirement for admission. Approximately half of the students have learning disabilities including ADD, ADHD which is typical for high intellect individuals and 15 percent have been diagnosed with Autism, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Piano has been credited with increasing the individual IQ by up to 10 points. In addition, piano is one of the top qualities colleges look at in student admission based on: discipline, perseverence, analytical ability and patterns, and creativity. 
 

Piano and Music Therapy is perhaps the best forms of assistance for gifted children with autism, ADD, ADHD, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Additionally, gifted and talented, high intellect children, also benefit significantly.

 

Piano and Music Therapy assists children with social skills, language comprehension, memorization, organization, self- confidence, and most importantly, for school – focus.  

Autism and piano may not seem be a fit, however, so many children with autism tend to have amazing musical abilities and piano talent. The same hold true for children with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, and dyslexia. There is in fact a solid connection between these gifts and piano.

Gifted, autistic, ADD, ADHD, and Asperger’s children will find the piano is the best outlet for their expression. These children tend to adore both the sound and the musical theory behind the piano. These children tend to be fascinated at the idea of numbers on the piano keys, as well as the understanding that music theory and the piano are built on patterns. Theses gifted children love finding and comprehending the patterns. This is fundamentally due to the fact that these children live for patterns, as this is the one thing a child can be certain of, in their perhaps uncertain little world.

The study of chords, scales, and technical drills are all comprised of patterns, and make up the fabric of music.

Piano is immensely beneficial in supporting and enhancing children’s focus. Problems in the classroom and socially tend to develop so often due to issues with a lack of focus. This can also become a source of teasing of peers, and unacceptable behavior in the classroom, resulting in teacher’s “pegging” the child as an underachiever, which then becomes a self- fulfilling prophesy. These children are not guilty of being incapable of concentrating. Instead, these kids simply cannot find a way to get interested in their school work or activities unless the teacher makes extreme attempts to reach them on their own level. And based on classroom sizes, most teachers do not have the time to reach out to those children who do not “fit “the mold. These children, therefore, often get “lost”, and fall behind in the classroom, which later impacts their self-confidence, and ultimately, their adult lives and careers.

While it is up to the teacher to bring the learning to these kids, despite the fact that most teachers do not have the time to devote to these student, the other issue is, these children will not step up and ask the teacher for instruction unless they feel secure. And children with these gifts do not feel secure. This is perhaps due to the fact that they feel insecure from all the other things that are more difficult for them, from reading to following directions.

What is required is a teacher unconventional and patient enough to find ways to deal with the tremendous energy of ADHD children, and then find a useful channel for it.

Our music academy has developed games, and systems in both fun group and individual sessions which have proven results in assisting gifted children in their development – socially, and educationally in a classroom setting.  

 

 

Student at lesson
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According to  the Foundation for Universal Music Literacy Research Materials.. there are many beneficial attributes children acquire from learning to play including raising a child's IQ and assisting with certain learning disabilities such as autism; the following are five of the most prevalent:
1. Piano Lessons Help Children in School

The most talked about benefit children receive from piano lessons is that it also helps with their school lessons. Numerous studies available show children who play an instrument, score higher on both standard and spatial cognitive development tests alike. There are also findings that show kids who play piano in particular, scored higher in math, especially on problems dealing with ratios and fractions. In one particular study conducted by Dr. Frances Rauscher (a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh) and Gordon Shaw (a physicist at of the University of California at Irvine) tested preschoolers who received piano instruction. They found that preschoolers who received piano lessons scored 34% higher than their nonmusical counterparts in tests measuring spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the brain function used to understand math, science and engineering.

2. Piano Lessons Raise Self Esteem

Learning to play the piano is hard work and takes dedication. Not only does each song mastered increase a child's self-esteem, but showcasing their newly learned talents at piano recitals can boost their self esteem as much as winning a game in a sports competition. Lessons also help kids to learn how to keep a positive outlook when facing difficult tasks. The understanding that mastering a new skill is a process that requires patience helps children to approach tasks with confidence, and not become discouraged or frustrated. webassets/8_piano_pic_keys255B1255D.jpg

3. Piano Lessons Increase Coordination

Increased eye-hand coordination is almost a given for children that learn to play the piano, but there is more than that. Kids who play the piano have improved fine motor skills and, unlike other instruments, the piano requires both hands to work independently of each other, one moving fast while the other may be moving at a slower rate. All of these things help to increase a child's overall dexterity and complex thought processes.

4. Piano Lessons Help Children to Concentrate

Reading a piece of music takes a great deal of focus, causing a child to interpret a note and a rhythm, translate it into hand movements on the keyboard and then immediately go on to the next one. Reading and playing music allows them to think both critically and creatively, which is a skill that will assist them in anything they choose to undertake in the future.

5. Piano Lessons Help Children to be Well-Rounded

Regardless of whether a child plays the piano for a short time or for a lifetime, the long-term affects of their piano pursuance are many. Through playing the piano, children are exposed to classical music that they may otherwise have never heard. Kids may develop an appreciation for composers like Bach or Mozart that stay with them for life. In addition, the skills and knowledge they learn in piano may help them easily pick up another musical instrument later.

How Music Can Dramatically Effect Your Child's Development and Life-Time Success. 18 Oct. 2005

Additional links include:

Music makes the grade. . .

  • For years elementary teachers have decried the music pullout program (students are taken out of class to receive music instruction once or twice a week) because of "lost instruction" time. But according to many studies these fears are unfounded.
  • Researchers in Hamilton, Ohio, documented that students participating in a string pullout program scored higher on the reading, mathematics and citizenship portions of the Ohio Proficiency Test (OPT), than their non-music peers.
  • This study paired string and non-music students based on their verbal Cognitive Abilities Test (COGAT). Four groups of string students were released two times a week for instruction. Two of those four groups scored significantly higher on the reading and mathematics portion of the OPT than their non-music peers. Additionally, 68% of string students scored at grade level or higher on all four sections of the test compared to 58% of the non-music students. For more information (Michael D. Wallick, Ohio City Schools)
  • In high school, the results are also convincing. Every year juniors and seniors take the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) for college admissions . These scores reflect several years of education and are intended to judge a persons over-all education.
  •   Source: The College Board, Profile of College- Bound Seniors National Report for 2001.
  • Music and Achievement  by George "jorge" Tate
    Over the past several years, research has finally begun shedding light on the critical nature of arts education in human development. "In a study of the ability of fourteen year-old science students in seventeen countries, the top three countries were
    Hungary, the Netherlands, and Japan. All three include music throughout the curriculum from kindergarten through high school" (Dickinson, 1993, p. 1). Royer (1991) lists several correlations between music education and academic achievements. He found that:
  • Music students tend to have higher grade point averages than non-music students;
  • Music aids in the development of academic achievement skills;
  • Learning to play a musical instrument advances the physical, mental, emotional, and social development of students;
  • Learning music improved listening skills;
  • Arts enrichment - including music - was a factor in raising the I.Q. of second grade students;
  • Studying music improved reading for meaning;
  • Musical activities aid in the development of the intellect;
  • Instrumental music students learned to write faster than non-instrumentalists;
  • Schools that have arts programs experienced fewer and less severe discipline problems; and,
  • Music majors (college) account for the majority of those admitted to medical school. (p. 20)