popular belief, kids with Down's syndrome are not severely retarded, but
fall into the middle ground in terms of disability.
experience, kids with Down's have several common qualities, many of
which indicate a superior musical sense.
I find that
Down's kids have excellent musical memories. They can retain complex
series of notes and reproduce them, if given enough repetition.
repetition is another of their strong suits. They don't mind doing the
same thing over and over, if it is pleasing, which music at the piano
music may be a problem, as I have found with all the kids with Down's
that I have worked with. But they are very good with numbers, which is why
Piano by Number is a natural choice for them.
If you can
find one of their favorite songs, and translate it into numbers, or find
it in one of our books, they will be very pleased, for Down's kids have
a full range of feelings. Playing a favorite song is thus a very special
pleasure for them, spurring them on to learn more about the piano.
also self-esteem issues involved. Being able to play a familiar song may
not seem like much to "normal" kids, but to a Down's kid it is a
singular victory over his environment and condition.
special kids also have a very good sense of rhythm. In fact, a child I
taught with a severe Down's condition did very well with Piano by
Number. But when I showed him how to play rhythmic games, he was the best
I have ever seen.
could take musical dictation, at least in terms of rhythm. That means that
I could chant any rhythm and he would answer back exactly what I had done.
picked up on this and bought him a second hand drum set. We put it next to
the piano and our little band was born. We played any song that he knew,
so there were a lot of TV and film themes and game tunes and Disney. He
played a blistering backbeat to my piano solo, and we sang when we thought
fills and added little details and flourishes that only a talented
percussionist might think of.
If you find
music they know and love, you have a very natural young musician in any
one of these kids.
hobby these special kids can love forever.