When we thought that Jed’s story couldn’t be matched, we saw this video of inspirational speaker Pauline Victoria, a woman with no arms and legs teaching her 3 year old son to play piano with the Piano Wizard Academy.
Recently, we received a number of responses from families and educators dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD) and who are using Piano Wizard Academy as a tool to help reach those children and bring the known benefits of music education and therapy within the reach of these households and the people affected by ASD. As you will see, the autism spectrum is very wide, and what works for one, does not work for another, but we can see people seem to be having broad and dramatic success with Piano Wizard Academy.
First from a special needs teacher.
“As a music educator to students with special needs, I have been using the Piano Wizard Academy program with many of my students since October 2008 . . .Every student that has experienced this wonderful program has enjoyed it and many have demonstrated a talent in using it. Many of these talented students have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and possess a wide range of abilities.
During Phase One of implementing Piano Wizard Academy, each student was given the opportunity to play at least the first song of the first lesson, which involves playing only two different colored notes. The ability to change the tempo, or speed, of the music made it very adaptable for all of the students.To track students’ progress, I recorded the date, song name, level, tempo, hand played (right, left, or both), overall score, and the time attended to Piano Wizard Academy. By analyzing this data, I came up with some rather impressive numbers, given the diversity of the population using Piano Wizard Academy.
Of the 25 children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, 28% obtained a perfect score of 100% the first day they played Piano Wizard Academy. On their second day playing Piano Wizard Academy, that number leaped to 55% of the children obtaining a perfect score. From there, I broke down the data into two groups, one group of students with High-Function Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome, and another group of Autistic students with limited verbal abilities.
Of the students in the HFA/Asperger’s group, 55% obtained a perfect score the first day playing Piano Wizard Academy, and 77% reached a perfect score on the second day.
In the Limited Verbal Abilities group, 12.5% obtained a perfect score the first day which increased to 33% on the second day playing Piano Wizard Academy..”
Here are some more excerpts of the feedback we have gotten recently about the product used with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kids.
Good Morning!!! I took the Piano Wizard to the Special Education Dept. of a private school where my friend is the Director. She has many students of various ages on the autism spectrum. Piano Wizard Academy has been a HUGE hit!! One little boy who is 6, and very hard to occupy, has found his smile. The only problem so far………NO ONE wants to stop playing! … Not one student became frustrated during play. The game is very self satisfying to the child, and stimulating as well. After 1-2 tries, everyone was familiar with the color scheme and we were able to adjust the tempo to meet the need of the child. Many of the kids understood that they were playing the note in the music. Level 1 was a great success, and we will be moving on to Level 2 today. . . .
Here is some data from 3 students at the private school where my friend works. First, let me say that Piano Wizard Academy was a huge hit with everyone, young and old! I have never seen so many smiling faces in one classroom!! Children who are on the autism spectrum should have no problem using the Piano Wizard as a wonderful tool to help them in many areas including expressing creativity. In addition, it provides them with a success oriented opportunity for achievement and mastery.
Student 1 was a 6 year old little boy with moderate autism, and minimal verbal skills. On the first trial, he achieved a score of 35%, the second trial, a 68%, the third, a 74% and the 4th, an 87%. This was all done on Level 1. He was hesitant to move on to Level 2, but after a time, was able to do so, and did much better. At first, he wanted to just use one finger, but eventually caught on to both hands. He was smiling and flapping to show enjoyment.
Student 2 was an 11 year old boy with mild autism, who is verbal. On the first trial, he scored a 47%, the second trial, a 69%, and on the 3rd trial a 98%, all on Level 1. He was anxious to move up the levels, and did so with ease. He understood the concept of using both hands. He loved the praise and wanted others to watch him. He wanted to do it the next day, and even went on his own and played Jolly Old St. Nicolas!
Student 3 was a 7 year old girl with aspergers…. very verbal! She achieved a 48% on the first trial, and a 100% on the 2nd trial. She did a little dance for the class and didn’t want to stop. She moved through all 5 levels with ease.
Pictures to come soon. Still testing product.
I feel this product will in fact be a great asset to children with special needs and Autism. Whenever she is with the Piano she is very calm. My feeling is that with Piano Wizard Academy she is using more of her cognitive and to a degree she is able to learn it, that being said these suggestions I have provided previously will make Piano Wizard Academy more marketable to the Special needs community.
Time spend on a weekly basis: 3 times per week or more
Length: about an hour or more
Current Stage: Play stage (I have had just shown her the lessons).
Does the child can initiate music play? Not Independently only With Instructor.
Where the lesson does takes play? I usually do them on the afternoons after school and on weekends
(Here we see mixed results, we know it won't work for everyone, but for the majority of kids, it is a Godsend. . . .)
So I introduced my one son, 5 years old, to lesson one. He did well and liked the few songs he tried. BUT he is so used to going from game to game on the laptop that he found it difficult to go in a precise order. He kept saying he wanted to try different lessons, different hands…etc….because he always likes to move at a fast pace. Today was just exploratory for him and I allowed him to play with it. Round two I will be more structured and see how he can limit his desire to jump ahead.
Middle school teacher of Health education. Inner city (Camden NJ) environment. Working on a masters degree in Applied behavior Analysis to become a Board certified Behavioral analyst. I have taught for 16 years and teach regular as well as special education students with varying classifications.
Gavin: (5 years of age) diagnosed at 22 months with ASD. Started intense therapy of ABA, speech and Occupatioanl therapy. Went to preschool disabled at three, typical preschool with an aide at four and now first year of typical Kindergarten with aide. Very "busy" and above most peers academically in school but socially immature and impulsive. Loves games on the laptop and has an intense imagination.
Kyle: (also 5) Diagnosed with PDDNOS at 22 months .Same as above with Gavin in schooling and therapy. Kyle is more of a "pleaser' and entertainer. Likes to sing and loves music. He is also impulsive and very competitive. Likes to HURRY through activities to complete them. He is actually working in this at school using a timer to SLOW DOWN his work. This may be an idea I can use with him on the piano.
I can video my children. Cant video the kids at school. I will video this weekend for you.
More to come…
Hello Again Chris,
First feedback is from the five students in my middle school. Background: they are classified as learning disabled with behavioral issues. They are from 13-15 years old, two girls and three boys. These five children typically can not handle a structured music lesson. The music teacher and I arranged for each of the five students to spend an hour a day for three days during their lunch last week. They LOVED it…and have been asking to do another three days. I was thankful the music teacher was also working with them and was able to talk to them about how the progression worked from game to notes. It was amazing to see them so engaged..because typically they ARE NOT! We will start again next week as I bring it home to do with Kyle.
My other son Gavin, autism diagnosis, twin brother to Kyle, was introduced to it five times. He enjoys computer games and Wii. He was COMPLETLY disinterested in the program. He is less intense than Kyle and not so interested in achieving levels. I will continue to try and get him interested, as he enjoys watching Kyle for a bit. he is MUCH less focused and needs more physical activity, but when he is on the laptop playing a game, he is focused, piano wizard did not have the same effect..will keep trying
We know we can't expect 100% success with ALL children first time, especially with ASD and other special needs children, and that is one reason we offer a 100% unconditional guarantee, so you can see if it is right for you and your child without worry.
An excerpt from a recent blog post and emails from a homeschooling mother of an child with Asperger's syndrome.
Max (currently 9 and in 4th grade) was diagnosed with Asperger's in May of '09. Just recently Jan '10 we started seeing a therapist to help him manage his frustrations, anxiety, and meltdowns. What I hope to do here, is share what we learn from our son as he grows into adulthood.
My lil' disclaimer: I don't claim to be an expert on Asperger's or even a writer. )
We've been having a great ol' time with the Piano Wizard Academy… Since children with Asperger's (or for that matter most children under the autism umbrella) are typically visual learners, …. these kiddos often respond well to learning via a video gaming format. That makes it fun for you too!
Games work… especially games incorporating repetition and a high dose of fun along the way! With that ever-so-important knowledge under my belt, I was thrilled to have found a computer-based learning system for teaching my son how to play a musical instrument!
Would you believe my son is currently learning to play the piano? We're the proud (and excited new owners) of the Piano Wizard Academy package which provides us with piano lesson books and video lessons equating to 2 years worth of children's piano lessons.
The system is designed to work on your home computer and comes with a 48-key digital keyboard that plugs directly into your pc. As parent, the system guides you as "music coach"… which you can accomplish with ease… even if you've never played a musical instrument… even if you can't read a single musical note! As the music coach you may choose to learn right along with your student, or you may just guide their learning. In my case, I choose to learn!
My entire adult life I've wanted to play the piano… despite not owning one. The Piano Wizard Academy will teach you how to play on a "real" piano. My parents have such an animal and I'm anxious for the day when my children and I can play for grandma and grandpa!
Why music? If you've read the research on the correlation between children who can play a musical instrument and levels of success on college entrance exams, greater emotional health and stability, a higher sense of self-esteem and their ability to comprehend math… you'll know why! Children who master a musical instrument typically score significantly higher on math exams, and while we're not expecting Max to attend medical school, you might be interested to learn that music majors are the most highly admitted college grads to medical school. There's definitely something pretty amazing going on in the development of the mind when the language of music is incorporated into a child's curriculum.
… I can't imagine a better Christmas gift to give to a child on the spectrum… or any child for that matter, than the gift of music. These piano lessons are learned by playing a game, and taught in a series of steps that eventually lead to you and your student reading real musical notes, knowing how to properly sit at a piano, with correct hand-placement and timing, to generate beautiful music from a REAL piano!
… My son loves the outer-space background, but there are several to choose from. … it starts off as a matching game. Something anyone can do! As the child hits the correct key at the correct time, the object morphs from one image into another. If the game is running too fast, you can slow down the tempo. Max has been speeding it up!
You're given a wide variety of songs to choose from and you're even able to download your favorite music from the Internet into this game. There are so many games already provided with The Piano Wizard Academy, we've not felt the need to add any additional songs at this time, but eventually, we'll no doubt go music hunting!
Have a great night! I never ate dinner… too much time blogging and decorating our Christmas tree with the family (finally!). So… I'm going to cook something up real quick and check that box!
She had been failing three classes and within a three week period, had brought her grades up to a C average! And she no longer complained about the music styles I listened to in the car nor pushed me to listen to bass banging music.Hygiene has always been a problem for her due to her depression. She began dressing in other clothing other than black and wearing make up and hair ribbons.These changes may not seem like a lot but for a child who has had extreme mood swings and in between those times, suffers from extreme depression, this was like a golden vacation for her and for our family. . .I highly recommend Piano Wizard as a tool of accomplishment and as a tool of enjoyment for any child with a brain or mood disorder.(Name removed for privacy)
But it doesn't just help the folks with special needs! We all can benefit for years to come..
"Two days after purchasing piano wizard, my son went to his piano lessons and his teacher said he was a "new piano man!" She couldn't believe how well he came in playing even though he's only had your product for 2 days. Her comment was: "whatever it cost, it was worth every penny!"I am just so thrilled that we actually purchased something that is making a difference!"
-Julie S. -Mom in Texas
I am a home educator of two wonderful boys ages 5 and 7. I have wanted to teach them music but felt intimidated by the whole thing. It has been 26 years since I have played a piano!!! I jumped in with both feet and we have not looked back. My boys ask to practice their piano and I am re-teaching myself as well. We are so thankful for this system. We are having a ball and reaping a harvest of benefits at the same time. My nephews came over to play one day and did not play with anything but the Piano Wizard Academy the whole time. It is amazing how the children gravitate to it.The set up was very easy and the videos make it a breeze to prepare for the lessons ahead of time. I also like the wash, rinse and repeat. I highly recommend this product. You will not be disappointed.
I have been a homeschool mom for 25 years now and this Piano Wizard Academy is for ME! My parents came from Europe in the 50′s and couldn't afford piano lessons for us. My husband and I made sure that all 6 of our children could play the piano…our eldest son after starting lessons with our church pianist then was accepted as a student at the Cleveland Conservatory of Music in piano (he also played trombone), our twins played piano and French horn, our next son reluctantly played piano, gave up on trumpet, and enthusiastically took up guitar and now bought a keyboard to compose etc. Our two youngest daughters 17 and 13 play piano and have the best rhythm of any girls in their dance classes.So now it is MY TURN…after 25 years of paying for piano and other instrument lessons… and the thousands of dollars invested very willingly…but now it is my turn. And Piano Wizard Academy is JUST WHAT I NEED. I set aside some time every day and love the applause when I complete a song… I sing as part of our church's praise team and I want to learn to read music. It is never too late…and I love the format of Piano Wizard Academy!
Thank you,Sera Vpurlock
Dear Chris,I purchased Piano Wizard as a Christmas gift for my 4 children, ages 17, 15, 10 and 7 (I homeschool). Why? It doesn't take long to realize that IF I had all four of them in piano lessons at the going rate of $65/month, I would easily surpass the cost of owning the Piano Wizard Academy program in after only 2 months of lessons! My 10 year old was already taking lessons at a music academy for $80/month, and I knew I couldn't afford all my children to go.
So far, my 17 year old loves this program. I was afraid he would think it was too elementary or childish, but being a computer whiz, he quickly downloaded all kinds of his favorite songs and can't say enough good things about this program and its capabilities. My 10 year old has leaped ahead into the second set of lessons. She loves the song "Raining Cats and Dogs" and has been playing it at 300 speed, just for fun! She has been playing Beethoven, and the Star-Spangled Banner and is enjoying the challenge.I think the best surprise of all was my 7 year old son.
When his 10 year old sister started playing the piano, he wanted to play, too, but just didn't have the know-how of when to go up or down on the keyboard. He would get frustrated so easily – he knew what note he wanted to hit, but didn't know where it was on the keyboard. But with this program, he has already mastered 3 songs because it shows him what notes to hit and when. He is enjoying it so much, and I'm happy to see him get to make music along with the rest of his siblings.
I can't tell you how much this program is worth every penny we've paid. You get so much for your money! Just the keyboard and program alone was worth it, but you threw in so many "free" goodies, I knew I was getting a lot of "bang for my buck"! I especially like how the lesson books are spiral-bound so the pages stay in place. I enjoyed the free teleseminar with you, Don and Delayna on Tuesday, and through it, I did learn several helpful things that I have been trying out on my kids with great results.I plan to keep you posted on the progress of my children. I really dislike rating a program unless I've used it for awhile, but so far, I'm very pleased. My 15 year old daughter hasn't tried it out yet, but once she does, I will let you know how she does with it. She's the singer in the family, but her voice teacher says that she has to learn to read music, and I am hoping Piano Wizard Academy will help her enjoy that experience
Sincerely in SC,Carol F.
Jim W. and family
My son (7) is on song no.4. He says, "It's a bit tricky, but I like it". (Okay, he's the perfectionist in the family, so I am not surprised by that comment!) He is doing brilliantly, and picks up the tunes easily. This morning, for example, he started Song no. 3, level 1 at 8am. By 9am, I had given him his star for Level 5!He really can do it when he wants to.Thank you for making it such fun. I am especially grateful that the practicing with the accompaniment is so easy on the parent's ears.I have not yet asked the children to "give it a break please" because I had heard enough.I love all the features, like tempo control, the different backgrounds, and the ability to adjust the volume of accompaniment, so the main tune can be heard more easily. THANK YOU A THOUSAND TIMES.
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