Exposing child to different types of music - Need suggestions....

Need help with your young piano student or maybe just like to share the joy?

Postby M&m » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:00 pm

I have been trying to expose my 7 year old son (on Autistic Spectrum) to different types of music by taking him to a few concerts. He is very high functioning but has some problems in public saying inappropriate things (kept saying during his recital out loud that the person playing missed a note) and some behavior problems (regulating emotions and getting hyper). Most people wouldn't know he is autistic when they see him on a limited basis. He has a splinter skill in music.

The first concert at the local university was a wind ensemble which he loved and made comments that the experience was fun during the concert. I could see the excitement in his face (big smile) and in his actions. Okay...good so far!

The second concert was a Jazz Ensemble of which he got antsy 1/2 way through. It was at the local university too. I kind of got embarrassed because we were sitting next to the Conductor of the Wind Ensemble. It was on a Friday night like the previous concert. I think he got antsy this time because he was tired. We had to leave before the last song and I did not make a big deal of it. You could tell he wanted to stay but he couldn't stay still. For some reason the music played after a while seemed to all sound the same to me. One of the principal performers played in lots of jazz clubs.

The Third concert was a practice session of our local symphony orchestra. Half way through he got antsy again. We ended up moving to the back where he felt more comfortable. I tried engaging him by pretending to conduct with him. I had to take him home early in which he knew I was upset with his behavior.

The problem he is having is not the music but the Conductor talking explaining the music which I have noticed is where he gets figity every time.

I want to take him to concerts to help him learn about different styles but I don't know - maybe it is asking too much of him right now. I don't want him to dislike concerts.

You can't get the same experience from a CD or TV program.

I have got to think of something for him to do while the Conductor is talking I guess. Any suggestions? Do I keep on trying?
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Postby Stretto » Tue Oct 16, 2007 11:49 am

What if he were to write or draw a picture of his own critique or thoughts on the music that has been played so far - pretending to be a critic or be a judge of the performance thus far or draw a picture of what the music so far sounds like.

Explain those that critique or judge music write their feelings about a performance rather than saying them out loud.

He could keep all his drawings or critiques in a special book with the name of each concert so he can look back and remember each experience.

Or if you sat somewhere where you could take a break by walking down the hallway or go to the bathroom during the person's talking and come back when the music resumes?

Hmmm . . . at the concerts or performances I've gone to at the local university, I don't remember very much explaining or talking being done by the performers unless specified as a lecture/performance. Maybe there's some performances that have minimal talking or explaining in conjunction with the performance.

Also, playing out the role of audience/performer at home with him seeing what it's like being on the performer side and how he feels the audience should act while he's performing.

Most kids I know at that age would be likely to talk out loud at inappropriate times or get ancy or bored sitting that long. Many of my 7 yr. old piano students only last about 15 - 20 min. at the most at the piano bench. I had one student who danced to her assigned songs while I played them at the very last 5-10 min. of the lesson as she could hardly stand to sit that long. I haven't even braved taking my own kids age 6 and 8 to any formal concerts! (mainly they would probably be likely to be complaining about being bored toward the end) although they do sit with us and do fine at church on Sun.'s. I think my kids are pretty good about sitting still and paying attention but only because they've had to practice this on a regular basis going to church every week but they do bring small notebooks and pens and draw during the sermon.

With my kids, I save this for rare occasions but have let them have a lollipop, or some candy (best to use sugar free because of cavities of course) to suck on in situations where I needed them to be on their best behavior for example, when I had to take them along to a doctor's appt. It's amazing how quiet they can be when their mouths are busy! How would he do with a sugar free mint during the talking part of the concert?

I would keep trying and try going to situations on a regular basis where you are part of an audience to get plenty of practice as to what is expected as an audience member.




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Postby 112-1182392787 » Tue Oct 16, 2007 12:10 pm

My artistic, non-musical son, used to sprawl under a chair with crayons during concerts since that part did not interest him. If there were something calming and rhythmic like drawing that your son could put your attention on during the lectures, would that do the trick? But he would not be able to sit up front by the orchestra. Is there a calming type of activity where he channel himself that he likes? As I recall, with autism, the person takes in the whole world without filters at once and is overwhelmed by it. Also he's seven - still so young.
On another note, did you see the link to the documentary that I posted in one of these threads?
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Postby M&m » Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:51 am

Stretto wrote:What if he were to write or draw a picture of his own critique or thoughts on the music that has been played so far - pretending to be a critic or be a judge of the performance thus far or draw a picture of what the music so far sounds like.

Explain those that critique or judge music write their feelings about a performance rather than saying them out loud.

He could keep all his drawings or critiques in a special book with the name of each concert so he can look back and remember each experience.

Or if you sat somewhere where you could take a break by walking down the hallway or go to the bathroom during the person's talking and come back when the music resumes?

Hmmm . . . at the concerts or performances I've gone to at the local university, I don't remember very much explaining or talking being done by the performers unless specified as a lecture/performance. Maybe there's some performances that have minimal talking or explaining in conjunction with the performance.

Also, playing out the role of audience/performer at home with him seeing what it's like being on the performer side and how he feels the audience should act while he's performing.

Most kids I know at that age would be likely to talk out loud at inappropriate times or get ancy or bored sitting that long. Many of my 7 yr. old piano students only last about 15 - 20 min. at the most at the piano bench. I had one student who danced to her assigned songs while I played them at the very last 5-10 min. of the lesson as she could hardly stand to sit that long. I haven't even braved taking my own kids age 6 and 8 to any formal concerts! (mainly they would probably be likely to be complaining about being bored toward the end) although they do sit with us and do fine at church on Sun.'s. I think my kids are pretty good about sitting still and paying attention but only because they've had to practice this on a regular basis going to church every week but they do bring small notebooks and pens and draw during the sermon.

With my kids, I save this for rare occasions but have let them have a lollipop, or some candy (best to use sugar free because of cavities of course) to suck on in situations where I needed them to be on their best behavior for example, when I had to take them along to a doctor's appt. It's amazing how quiet they can be when their mouths are busy! How would he do with a sugar free mint during the talking part of the concert?

I would keep trying and try going to situations on a regular basis where you are part of an audience to get plenty of practice as to what is expected as an audience member.

Stretto, I appreciate all the time you took in posting.

The Book idea sounds really good...kind of like a journal of experiences.

We do take breaks. The concerts are very informal...sometimes they are recitals. What I am taking him to I see other people there with kids. Since he is a lot like an Asperger's kid, he hyper-focuses and so his attention span is very concentrated if that makes sense.

He can listen to the same piece of music or watch the same movie for months at a time. It depends on his interest at the time.

I had an idea that I could write a social story of how he needs to act and what will be happening and let him participate in writing it (on the computer). We had a situation once when he was little (4) where we went to a movie theater to watch Nemo. He started getting antsy. I took him out to go to the restroom of which he did not like because he knew he was misbehaving. (mind you I am not a yeller or spanker - I just remove him from the situation and when he calms down I can talk to him) He runs from me and goes up and down the isles of some other movies screaming before I could catch him. The next time I went with him to see the Polar Express I made a picture schedule and he did wonderful the whole time. It said what he could do and couldn't do and what to expect. Something about when I put it in pictures visually he understands fully.

Maybe we can come up with a signal that we can leave when he gets tired or bored or has had enough. He is very excited to go every time. I can set a time limit on the concert. He is so visual that if you tell him exactly when it is time to go by showing him a watch or cell phone he is great till then. It lets him know what to expect.

The candy won't work with him. He is a selective eater and won't eat candy.

He does go to church every Sunday and we have a hard time sometimes with him there. He goes under the pew also when he gets upset. He has plenty of things to do.

Sometimes with his behavior you never know when he will have a hard time and you look for signals and then have a plan of action.

His piano teacher says he has all the tools for being a virtuoso if we could just get the behavior in control. I don't care about being a virtuoso but just want some outlet for him to express feelings and maybe provide for himself if this is the direction he is suppose to go.
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Postby M&m » Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:15 pm

pianissimo wrote:My artistic, non-musical son, used to sprawl under a chair with crayons during concerts since that part did not interest him. If there were something calming and rhythmic like drawing that your son could put your attention on during the lectures, would that do the trick? But he would not be able to sit up front by the orchestra. Is there a calming type of activity where he channel himself that he likes? As I recall, with autism, the person takes in the whole world without filters at once and is overwhelmed by it. Also he's seven - still so young.
On another note, did you see the link to the documentary that I posted in one of these threads?

pianissimo,

I will try to think of something he can do. In Church we have him do small games that don't make any noise.

He can concentrate on multiple things at once. He will play one song while the digital piano is playing another just to see how the tunes might fit together.

When he was showing his teacher how he could name any note with out looking he was fidgiting doing something else.

Being close up would bother him too much. He likes the back and then holds his hands over his ears.

I did watch the documentary on a medical show. My son can tell you what notes a buss hums or the hairdryer makes. He was transposing before the teacher taught him.

His problem is getting his fingers to do what his mind wants to. He doesn't like writing much or drawing. My fingers were very coordinated till I was around 16.


He is young and the reason I am here is to understand what he is doing. I am keeping up with the theory but I couldn't tell you if he was playing something right or not. I did not grow up playing any instrument and my parents didn't really expose me to any music except we heard Johnny Cash. I really didn't get into hard rock music. Since my children were born I have only listened to what they like. I couldn't even tell you what songs are popular today.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:22 pm

By any chance, is he a global learner? (I'm having a thought).
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Postby Stretto » Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:52 pm

Well, he is probably getting way more out of the concerts or recitals then most people there are.

When I was a kid, I had a big stack of 45 records that used to belong to my aunt plus my little kids records and I had my own kiddie record player. I remember sitting there for lengths at a time with my stack of records going through the whole stack playing one after the other. There was quite a huge variety. Then my parents also had records that my mom would allow me to play on their stereo and I did the same thing going through every record they had. A child could do the same thing with cd's and their own cd player. I think listening to those and the variety of songs and styles really influenced me musically.

Also, before I took any formal music lessons, my dad had an old piano, old guitar, and old trombone and I would goof around on those and could figure out tunes on those. I also had a harmonica and recorder that I figured out a lot of tunes with too.

So I think just having a variety of music to listen to, some various instruments even inexpensive ones like recorders and harmonicas and/or rhythm instruments to experiment on, and some written music around the house all influenced me quite a bit as far as interest in music and taking up music myself.

I think the concerts are great too as when I was a kid, I was not exposed to any formal live concerts and the first and only time for years I ever saw any instruments of the orchestra was in 5th grade when a high school orchestra visited our school and thought all those instruments looked so strange and peculiar.




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Postby M&m » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:31 pm

pianissimo,

I know he is a visual learner and has rote memory and learns in whole chunks. He has problems with comprehension. He had echolalia when he was 3 - 5 and still will script some things. He is known for echopraxia where he copies the actions of others. He will sound like one of his friends at school on the spectrum and do some of his actions. He gets the inflection tone all correct. If he is around more severe kids on the spectrum he will take on their manerisms. He had a friend when he was 4 that had a speech articulation problem and he would copy that. You would have thought he had the articulation problem it was so close.
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Postby M&m » Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:01 pm

Stretto wrote:Also, before I took any formal music lessons, my dad had an old piano, old guitar, and old trombone and I would goof around on those and could figure out tunes on those. I also had a harmonica and recorder that I figured out a lot of tunes with too.

So I think just having a variety of music to listen to, some various instruments even inexpensive ones like recorders and harmonicas and/or rhythm instruments to experiment on, and some written music around the house all influenced me quite a bit as far as interest in music and taking up music myself.

We do have a collection of recorders, harmonicas and instruments. We also have a Schoenhut Xylophone that has really neat tones. I collect anything I can get my hands on. He decided that he loved the song "I believe I can fly" by R. Kelly so he figures out how to play it on various instruments. He learned to play on the recorder in his early music classes.

We also have a clarinet but I don't know how to put it together. I guess I could search online and try to figure it out.

He has a cd player with headphones but will only put a veggie tale cd in it. He won't put anything else in it.

In the car he listens to the same Mozart CD over and over for months. You would think I would have it memorized but after a while I tune out because he is constantly counting cars and yells out "Jeep" every time he sees one...meanwhile I am trying to drive. You also hear him humming or clicking his fingers.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:40 pm

Mozart CD over and over for months. You would think I would have it memorized
Having the gift he does, he probably hears so much more than the melody or even the intertwining of melodies and harmonies. For those with this kind of rarified musicality, it is an endless ocean, and he will hear more and more, the more he listens - maybe until he is satiated? There is not just the music, but the texture of the tones of each instrument. A note has colours, and smaller tones inside of it - the combinations even more so.

I am still thinking of the part of your quest that will have him not be restless at non-music times. Does he use all of his senses richly, or mainly his ears? Vision, smell, touch? What can he become absorbed in?
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Postby M&m » Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:34 pm

I know he has always been fascinated with visual things. One of the concerts he wanted to bring his tornado maker which is a tube with water that you shake up and it creates a tornado. However, he got frustrated with that because he couldn't always get it right.

I will have to think of some of his visual toys. They do tend to have a calming effect.

I feel you are always on edge because you never know what is going to set off a behavior or I don't notice till afterwards.
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Postby M&m » Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:40 pm

pianissimo wrote:There is not just the music, but the texture of the tones of each instrument. A note has colours, and smaller tones inside of it - the combinations even more so.

I did not even know or imagine this.
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Postby M&m » Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:46 pm

I googled textures of music and came across this activity...

http://cnx.org/content/m14260/latest/

Are textures like different layers to the music?
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:58 am

About textures: I have little formal training, so I was using the term in the sense of personal experience. Textures have many forms, and if something has many textures, then for those people who have the sensitivity and/or training, they will have hours of exploration in front of them.

My idea of textures are, I guess, variations. An Alaskan Pie has ice cream on top of a hot baked pie, so you have hot and cold, plus two contrasting flavours, as well as the crumbly greasy texture of the pie crust, the slithery sweet chunky-softness of the apple filling, the distinct separate flavour and texture of the ice cream which goes from solid to liquid, and the intermingling of all these things. A gourmet cook with high training will be able to savour much more than an habituate of fast food restaurants with an undeveloped palate.

Music, especially such music as that of Mozart, has multiple areas of discovery. There are structures such as the one in your link. It unfolds across time, and the message is composed of tempo, rhythm, louds and softs, "codes" in how it is written. Mozart uses these structures in a knowledgeable and expert manner, and for some, those codes and patterns can be perceived even before they have the formal knowledge. (The problem is that if you don't have the formal knowledge, you also don't have a "language" or point of reference.)

There are also tone-textures, and these go into physics and also vibrations. A single note such as G also vibrates to the other notes in a scale and in a very particular order. A fine ear can hear these differences. The way the vibrations of the G interact with the vibrations of D (the dominant) creates still other textures and interactions in physics. This is why music is structured in the manner that it is. The quality of these tones and vibrations - the thickness, thinness of a sound, and other things - is affected for example by how the note is truck or blown, how it is sustained, what else is happening. So besides the structures of music that I have written about above, there is an infinity of textures on a level of pure physics.

Upon this, the written music, and the physics-end of it, work together as a whole. Some very unusual individuals will be able to perceive these patterns and interrelationships long before they have words or context for them. It is possible that when your son is listening to Mozart over and over, that he is tapping into all of that.
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