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Workshops, Courses, Professional Development

Find out how to teach instrumental music to children with disabilities.
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The Keys of Life Foundation offers both short workshops and full training courses. 


Course participants are encouraged and welcome to participate in our online Forum. Access is by invitation, please contact us if you have not received your forum details after attending a workshop or course.

The forum offers teachers-only discussions centred around the teaching method itself, instrument families, and any questions, issues, ideas or suggestions of your own. The more you join in, the more value you’ll get from the forum, so please login and add your contributions.

Keys of Life Professional Development Workshops

Short course (3 hours)

Presented by Daphne Proietto and Professor Joseph Proietto.

This workshop will focus on Daphne’s knowledge and techniques for teaching instrumental music to children with diverse learning needs.

The workshop will consist of the following components:

  • a discussion of the clinical features of autism and ASD in relation to music
  • the adaptations of teaching for children with disabilities and providing the right environment for learning
  • case studies of several of Daphne’s students from severely affected to high functioning students
  • brainstorming of different instrument applications and question time
  • a performance by Daphne’s students.

Included is a 20-minute break for morning tea.

There are no upcoming events at this time.

“I think the best part of the session I attended was when the students played their music. I felt like I was seeing the bigger picture. I could see the potential for autistic students to achieve so much with the right approach. I could see the outcomes of team work – student, teacher and parents, and I was able to ask Daphne and the parents questions. As a studio teacher I feel I am not on my own trying to teach these students – I now know someone I can tap on the shoulder when I feel like I am not getting anywhere. It gave me hope – something I can pass on to the parents of my students. I came away knowing I need to know more, and that I would be able to learn so much more from Keys Of Life. I also realised that if I knew more about how to teach these children I would not be so inclined to blame myself for when they are not progressing so well – I would be able to consider other factors that could require some attention.”


Keys of Life Professional Development Long Courses

Teacher Training Course

5 lectures plus observation, tutorials and supervised teaching.

This course is for teachers interested in teaching a musical instrument to children with diverse learning needs including children with autism, cerebral palsy, global developmental delay and severe visual impairment.

Prerequisites for the course

To undertake this course, it will be necessary for the teacher to:

  1. have completed at least Primary Suzuki training and gained accreditation in one instrument preferably piano or
  2. be training or have completed a postgraduate course in music therapy and be a competent pianist or
  3. be a training or qualified music teacher with an interest in teaching children with disabilities and be a competent pianist or instrumentalist AND
  4. have a current “Working With Children” permit and a police check.


Outline of lectures

Session 1

  • Music and the Brain
  • Introduction to child psychology

 Session 2

  • Clinical features of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Physical limitations
  • Visual impairment
  • Cerebral palsy

Session 3

  • Using aspects of the Suzuki Method to teach special-needs children
  • Teaching Book 1, Book 2 and reading

Session 4

  • General teaching strategies
  • Intellectual impairment
  • Elevated levels of stress in the child
  • Dealing with behavioural problems

Session 5

  • Revision of Neuroplasticity
  • Physical impairment of hand and body control
  • Exercises to improve hand and body control
Mon 28

CANCELLED – Keys of Life Professional Development Long Course (Sep.2020)

28 September @ 10:00 am - 1 October @ 4:00 pm AEST

“When I first learned about the opportunity to learn from Daphne Proietto, my main motivation was one particular student who I had been teaching for years. He struggles with speech, fine motor skills and has learning disabilities. Some teachers also suspect ASD, but there has never been a diagnosis.

Taking the long course with Daphne and Joe gave me a great insight into the area of autism. The lectures were very detailed, academic and scientific. There was plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion. As I don’t have a music therapy background, a lot of the content was new to me: Theories of learning, Music and the brain, Management of anxiety, The Suzuki approach…. Just to name a few of the topics covered.

We had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work with Daphne’s students who are the most amazing kids. The lesson observations were extremely valuable. Every student is so different!

I had been trying to get that student of mine more excited and interested in playing the piano by finding “cool” music and trying lots of different, new things, hoping not to bore him. After the first session of the long course, I found my old Suzuki book and off we went with it … I tried to structure the lesson in the same way every week for a while, it is incredible how much easier we both found it. His finger coordination improved, he came with a smile into every lesson! He is now in Year 12 and still tells me that he loves piano.

I include the Suzuki method a lot more now in my teaching, I teach a few special needs students at school now, and the approach really works. The repetition and structure gives a sense of security…to overcome anxiety is a big achievement for these students. You don’t have to be a Suzuki teacher to make use of this approach. I believe that the teacher needs to stay flexible with it.

The biggest factor for success seems to be the support of the parents. I now always invite parents to sit in the lesson, at least at junior school age. It’s not as easy at school, but it is amazing how many more you get to come, if you communicate the importance of this well to the parents.

I share with my team at work what I have learned. I always now check new enrolments to know if there is a special needs ‘tag’ and inform my colleagues to be aware of it if there is.  It is quite incredible how often instrumental teachers, who work at a school, are not aware and are not informed about the special needs of a student!

About anxiety:  my student never wanted to perform, he often said to me that he is not good enough…. Last year he played at the Geelong Music Performance Festival. This year he is looking forward to taking part again. This for me is the biggest success, that he loves what he does and wants to share it.

I have always loved chamber music. After seeing what Daphne achieves with her special needs students, I have been highly motivated and much more active to create duets and trios. The piano studio can be a wonderful social platform for kids who often must feel out of place and misunderstood. Apart from getting a great insight into a new topic (at least for me it was), I have enjoyed meeting some wonderful teachers, students and parents during the long course. Daphne and Joe made us feel so welcome. The atmosphere is very personal, and the cuppa and supper (always homemade!) after the lectures provided an opportunity to get to know each other.

The highlight for me was to be part of one of Daphne’s very special concerts that she organizes for her students. We all got to be involved. I am still so impressed, not just by the way Daphne interacts with her students, but also of the high standard these children perform at.

To finish, I can say that I do recommend the long course. It is very inspiring and has certainly added another dimension to my own teaching.”


The PRO Method

Like all good teaching pedagogy it 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 children with disabilities 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 behavioral traits to enhance the enjoyment and success of music making

Questions or queries?

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