What, Where, Who and How
Find out more about the program, and if there’s a teacher near you, plus how to to be put in touch.
- How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins (Ted Talks)
- Does music instruction improve fine motor abilities? (PubMed.gov)
- Music and social bonding: “self-other” merging and neurohormonal mechanisms (PubMed.gov)
- 10 reasons you should take up a musical instrument (ClassicFM)
- Music lessons spur emotional and behavioral growth in children (Washington Post)
The Keys of Life Foundation wants to link children with special needs and their families to music teachers within the Keys of Life community.
Piano is an ideal first instrument for special needs children. The keyboard is laid out so that it is easy to see exactly where the notes are and how they relate to each other.
The sound is easy to produce and both hands are engaged in a similar way, working both sides of the brain.
Many of our students start on piano and are then able to move onto other instruments.
See our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) below for more details
Where can I find a teacher?
Keys of Life teachers are growing in number and can be found in Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney – with more locations coming soon!
“When our child started piano lessons with Daphne at the age of six, we had been told he would not finish school due to his low cognitive levels. By the time he finished lessons, 11 years later, he completed VCE music and went on to study science at university. We have no doubt that his music lessons played a major part in his progress.”
Elizabeth’s musical journey has been eye opening and a real silver lining, considering all the challenges she has faced. For a child who has been consistently been assessed at the lowest 5% range in terms of developmental milestones, music is the one thing that appears to have been relatively easy for her to pick up. She has gained much confidence and feels a large sense of achievement every time she masters a song. Playing music also appears to have calming effect, as she will gravitate towards the piano or cello whenever she is upset or if she feels happy and wants to express herself. It will be almost impossible to imagine Elizabeth’s day without music as it has given her a real purpose and has become a big part of her and our family’s life.
Over the last eight years, Daphne has patiently nurtured Ollie’s love of music. Our weekly lessons with Daphne were such a positive and rejuvenating experience that we could share together as a family. Ollie was finally being recognised for something that he could do, rather than the focus on what he couldn’t do. As parents, this gave us a much-needed sense of hope and encouragement.
One of the most amazing things about learning piano is that it has given Ollie the opportunity to show off his talents. At the end-of-year school concert he was loudly applauded as he bowed and hi-fived his way off the stage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of learning the piano?
There are so many. Listed here are just a few. Click on the heading to be taken to the research behind the facts.
Strengthens brain functions (see the research)
Disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens the visual, auditory and motor cortices in the brain, allowing students to apply that strength to other activities.
Improves fine motor skills (see the research)
The fine motor abilities of children who participated in two years of piano instruction were compared to those who had never received formal music training.
A significant improvement in fine motor skills was found only for the children who received the lessons.
Teaches communication (see the research)
Music is nonverbal, so it enables people without speech to express themselves and connect with others. According to researchers, when we try to sync with others musically—keeping the beat or harmonising, for example—we tend to feel positive social feelings towards those with whom we’re synchronising.
Relieves stress (see the research)
Slow, quiet classical music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.
Builds confidence (see the research)
Playing in public can help children feel confident in presenting their work in a non-academic context.
Why do you focus on piano?
Piano is an ideal first instrument for special needs children. The keyboard is laid out so that it is easy to see exactly where the notes are and how they relate to each other. The sound is easy to produce and both hands are engaged in a similar way, working both sides of the brain.
Many students start on the piano and then move onto other instruments.
Do I need a piano at home?
Students will need a piano or weighted keyboard at home. Keys of Life can help source one if families are unable to.
Can I drop my child off for their lesson?
Parents should attend lessons so that they can help their child at home. Even parents who know nothing about music are able to help their children.
Is there homework?
Students should practise every day. This repetition is what causes positive shifts in brain function. For the first few years this practice should be supported by parents in the practice room.
Parents wanting their child to learn from Daphne will be asked to come and observe lessons for up to three months to understand the commitment required. Other Keys of Life teachers may have different requirements.
Is it really worth the effort?
Yes! For families who commit the time the outcomes can be wonderful. More below, or click here to read some of our Student Stories.
Keys of Life Teacher Locations
The PRO Method
Like all good teaching, the PRO method is a combination of many different ideas and practices. Pioneered by Daphne Proietto, it draws on the aural fundamentals of the Suzuki method and her studio piano teaching experience to explore and realize the unique skills that a lot of special needs children have.
It concentrates on:
- Developing good fine motor skills
- Fostering a musical ear and awareness of pitch
- Working closely with each individual student’s strengths and behavioural traits to enhance the enjoyment and success of music making
About Daphne Proietto
Daphne started teaching special needs students at her home in the year 2000. Word quickly travelled around musical circles that she was producing amazing outcomes for autistic children using her innate knowledge of the skills that some of these children possess i.e. perfect pitch, excellent memory.
Her work often concentrates on basic motor skills early on and bringing the child to an awareness of their aural skills. Daphne also concentrates enormously on building a rapport not only with the child but with the family as well, emphasizing that most of the work is done at home and that the parents need to be involved in their child’s musical development.
Daphne has extended her work to include children who have many different disabilities. The deep mutual respect she and her students have for one another is testament to her immense success as a teacher and mentor.
Her concerts simply have to be experienced to be understood. They are a great, joyous celebration of humanity. Her students, some of whom have to deal with enormous social and physical issues, come up to the piano, bow to the audience and then proceed to perform with a level of calmness and concentration that leaves the audience gobsmacked.
One of Daphne’s concerts was featured on 60 Minutes in 2015, and the need to develop teachers with skills embodied by the PRO method became very apparent when Daphne was inundated with calls from parents after the airing of the show. Daphne has never received any payment for her work and is fast approaching retirement age. The many families she has helped would love to see her work continue and thus Keys of Life was born.