Exploring the application of the Sounds of Intent music-developmental theory in Piano Pedagogical contexts for Children on the Autism Spectrum
lIntroduction This research project aims to develop and test new strategies to promote engagement and musical development of children with autism and learning difficulties, using the piano. The research is based on the 'Sounds of Intent' (SoI), a framework that has been specifically developed for children and young people with learning difficulties. Please click here if you would like to find out more about 'Sounds of Intent' (SoI) .
Why piano? While the SoI research has generated a number of resources for practitioners working with children with learning difficulties, little attention has been paid to the use of instruments, particularly the piano. This is a significant knowledge gap, as other studies suggest that the piano is a particularly suitable resource for children on the autism spectrum due to its immediacy, consistency and capacity to produce multiple sounds at the same time (Ockelford, 2007; Ockelford, 2012; Ockelford, 2013). Aim The project is currently in its second phase of the investigation. Strategies that were developed in Phase 1 are currently being distributed on this website. The aim is to stimulate an audience of teachers and professionals to watch a series of video clips (strategies) on different SoI levels and if possible, implement the strategies on current students and monitor their effectiveness and then complete the survey (your feedback on the strategies) attached to each video or click on the tab 'Evaluation'. Each video last approximately one minute.
Please register your details if you are interested in participating in the survey. This is to help the researcher to track the responses of the survey and cross-reference with the respondents. Once you have registered your interest, click on Level 2, 3, 4 and 5 and you'll find videos where you can watch and leave your feedback.
Approach Several children with autism with no prior experience of attending piano lessons or having instrumental lessons have been recruited to participate in one-to-one piano lessons with the researcher to test different strategies that may be appropriate at different music-developmental levels (SoI Level 2, 3, 4 and 5). Before the start of the research, each child was assessed by their music teacher to put them in the appropriate SoI level.
Children received one-to-one weekly piano lessons with the researcher. They do not have access to the piano outside the lesson time. Each piano session lasts between 5-20 minutes; this varies according to the child's interest and willingness to cooperate. The piano sessions have a consistent structure. The researcher starts the session with an introductory song ('Hello Song') and then introduces a range of activities (strategies). The session then ends with a 'Goodbye song.' By following the same structure, children have become familiar with the lesson and are thus more able to predict what is happening in the piano room. The introductory song gives the children a sense of what is going on before commencing activities on the piano. The goodbye song at the end gives a sense of completion.