PILLOW: A CHILD'S DEFENSE AGAINST THE PIANO
tell you exactly what they need, even if they can't put it
Today I had a
piano lesson with one of my most brilliant students, an autistic
boy who seems completely normal and has more raw musical talent
than anyone I know. This eight year-old can sight read and
transpose in a way that would frighten you if you knew what he
And yet he is
just a boy: vulnerable, moody and on his own wavelength.
So when he came
into the living room and took a pillow from the sofa to hold in
front of him, I knew something was up.
instantly that he was protecting himself from the piano, using
the pillow as his shield.
I could tell
right away this kid didn't really want a piano lesson.
So I let him
have the pillow and began playing the piano and talking,
ignoring the fact that he was holding a pillow almost as large
I decided to
see what happened if I let him have his space.
went by before he reached a hand from behind the pillow to join
I held the
pillow while he played at one point remarking, "Didn't want
you to drop your pillow, sir."
After a few
minutes I said casually, "You should play this Bach piece.
It's really easy but it sounds hard."
He likes Bach,
with the taste of an aristocrat, and quickly tried the prelude
with both hands, but the pillow was in the way. I took it and
assured him he could have it back at any time.
later he had forgotten about the pillow and learned eight bars
of the Bach D minor Toccata.
His mom came
into the room, truly impressed.
returned to his normal position, no pillow, just sitting at the
next part?" he asked with a smile.
his new song.