“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 Jo 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 Jo 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.”