In addition to the group music classes, I teach private music lessons at The Parish School. For many of my private students, our music lesson is a time to explore instruments, learning how to play them, and what they are called. While for some, the lessons are focused on one or two instruments with time to explore instruments if they choose. Lessons are client-lead and they make the decisions of what to play, when they are ready for a new instrument, and how long they want to play. In a school day and at home, so many things are decided for the student and music provides an opportunity for them to exercise their decision-making process. I have a few students who have a hard time deciding what to play and it may take one to two minutes before they can state what they want. Some students work better with two or three choices to help make a decision.
Through instrument exploration, students learned to say “I want to play a new instrument” and “I want to play _________.” In addition, they learn to clean up by putting the instrument back onto the shelves or ask for help to put it back. In playing instruments, students are attending to the instrument, working on hand-eye coordination, gross motor or fine motor movement, and addressing their sensory needs. Students have also chosen to listen to music and dance with scarves or to draw a picture. Playing many instruments on top of a full work day and other therapy sessions may be exhausting and students want to relax with music and art.
For the more single instrument focused students, they work on learning how to play the instrument, the parts of the instrument, and the basics of music theory. We have improvisation activities to encourage creativity and it allows students to play what they have learned without continually repeating the same workbook exercise. In addition, it works on conversational skills of musical exchanges back and forth, following the same musical style to match ideas and think about the other person, and to express how the student is feeling.
Each student’s lesson is so different and tailored to their needs and strengths. I always look forward to my lessons with students as I learn something new about them, about how they view instruments, and more about myself as a music teacher.
Music’s the medicine of the mind – John A. Logan