Teaching Piano to Downs Syndrome

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I have been asked to teach piano to an 11 year old girl with Downs Syndrome. Does anyone have any good information or advice about how best to help her, or any special teaching techniques that would help her?

-- Laura Stack (lastack@juno.com), March 01, 2003


Hello, Laura. I have a 14-year-old son with Down Syndrome. Here are a few observations: I hope this information is helpful for you!

-- Jon Ensminger (jlens@cybrzn.com), March 09, 2003.

After reading the previous post I felt I had to respond with a few suggestions: it seems to me that a traditional piano approach might NOT be the way to go with a DS student. Piano programs like Musikgarten, Harmony Road, Music For Young Children, and Yamaha may be better suited to this student and the particular challenges he/she might face. These programs are taught in a group atmosphere (with parent participation), and a variety of musical activities like singing, movement, ear training, etc... are important aspects of the total musical education. Every few minutes the activities change (which would address the shorter attention span). Also, these programs are more AURAL in nature, although children do learn to read music. I had a mom of a DS child come and observe one of my classes and although the child didn't sign up (they ended up moving to Texas), she was quite impressed with the structure and thought it would be better for her child than a traditional private piano setting

-- alexandra (alidoremi@aol.com), March 10, 2003.

Yes, those are good suggestions. My only thought is that at 11, the student would probably be ready for more than music-readiness types of activities. There is no reason why an 11-year-old girl with Down Syndrome couldn't learn to play the piano in a traditional setting. I would perhaps supplement with the readiness-type activities, but certainly she could use traditional piano materials, probably at a slower pace.

-- Jon Ensminger (jlens@cybrzn.com), March 11, 2003.

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