I began working with Joshua in 2016, focusing mainly on speech and language goals. In 2018, we added piano instruction to our sessions. This proved to be difficult as Joshua struggles to identify letters, numbers, and colors. The concepts presented in a traditional piano lesson book were beyond his level of comprehension, so I created materials specific to him. Using Microsoft Excel, I transcribed familiar melodies that had a range of five or less notes. Numbers were used in place of traditional notes and, after some time, Joshua was able to match numbers on a page to numbers on stickers stuck to piano keys. We then successfully repeated the procedure with letters. Although I am still creating materials specific to Joshua’s needs, we have also begun learning unfamiliar songs from a lesson book, adding letters, numbers, and colors as needed.
The melody for Silent Night spans eleven notes – bass C to treble F. For the left hand I have used AlphaNotes, which place note names inside noteheads. The left-hand fingers are situated on bass C through bass G. For clarity, the right hand is all presented in the treble clef, even though right hand thumb plays the bass A below middle C. The noteheads for the right hand are colored blue to match the blue numbered post-it flags placed on the right-hand piano keys. The appropriate finger numbers appear on the page below the noteheads. The right-hand position is bass A through treble E. In measure 9, the pinky finger needs to stretch up one key. This anomaly is notated with both a number and a letter 5(F).
Joshua is a very musical guy, often singing short original repeating melodies during sessions. Despite his learning difficulties, he has persisted and I am very proud of the progress we have made together.