In addition to offering music therapy, another service we provide at Wholesome Harmonies is adapted music lessons.

Whereas in music therapy our goal is something non-musical (like increasing attention or improving articulation), with adapted music lessons our goal is musical – for students to acquire skills to learn an instrument.

The benefits of having a board certified music therapist (MTBC) provide adapted lessons are:

  • MTBCs have the skills and training to work with children who have special learning needs
  • MTBCs can provide creative adaptations to help students feel successful when learning the instrument. (More on that in next week’s blog post!)

When I teach adapted lessons, I always use a keyboard and not an actual piano. The reason I do this is because the keyboard has a variety of cool settings and features that help me when I teach. Here are a few of those features:

  • Voice: You can use this setting to choose any instrument sound. Sure it’s not the most authentic sounding feature (try the saxophone setting and you’ll see what I mean!) But it really is fun to have a student play “Ode to Joy” with the voice set to chorus or a Halloween song with the voice set to organ.
  • Styles and beats: One of the things I like to incorporate into my lessons is improvisation. I’ll start by setting a style (like samba, country or reggae) and a beat. Then I’ll ask the client to improv. Using different styles adds a creative and fun feel to our lessons, especially when the lesson book becomes a bit dry ;)
  • Metronome: The keyboard has a built in metronome so I don’t have to worry about bringing one or pulling up an app on my phone.
  • Recording: My keyboard has the ability to record the improvisations of my students. We love to hear the playback and talk about what they sound like.

These are just a few of the reasons why I love using the keyboard to teach my adapted lessons.

Stay tuned next week when I share some ideas about how you can incorporate creative adaptations into your lessons with students with special needs to help them feel successful when learning an instrument!



Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at