10 steps to starting special needs piano

The videos complimenting this blog can be found at www.hurleypiano.com. I recommend you watch Black Key videos 1-20 before you read this article. I will answer any and all questions therapists, parents and teachers have about this method. So get emailing as soon as...

Two Nursery Rhyme Piano Favorites

By now you are getting the idea that while piano can be taught to special needs kiddos it requires just as much work as any other teaching tool in your clinic or piano studio. So let’s take a look at learning some easy pieces; Twinkle, Twinkle; Brother Jack; Row, Row,...

Piano Blog Making A Trailer

If you use a trailer as a sketch up for a documentary then you can use a blog as a sketch up for your trailer. This blog is my pre trailer sketch, the gathering of ideas and intuitions, the separation of hunches from false starts and good ideas from bad. At a very...

TED: Charles Limb: Building the Musical Muscle

Charles Limb performs cochlear implantation, a surgery that treats hearing loss and can restore the ability to hear speech. But as a musician too, Limb thinks about what the implants lack: They don’t let you fully experience music yet. (There’s a hair-raising example.) At TEDMED, Limb reviews the state of the art and the way forward.

From Clavichord to the Modern Piano

My students are fascinated to hear that Beethoven demanded that the piano have 88 keys. He ways not happy with the limited range of the keyboard and he started writing pieces with a keyboard range that did not yet exist. So industry had to build the new expanded pianos in order to hear his music. This video documents the journey from the clavichord to what we know as the modern day piano.

Part two:

Mozart’s 66 Key Fortepiano

Mozart did not play on the 88 key piano we have today. The 88 key piano was created by Beethoven when he started writing pieces for the 88 key piano that had yet to be created by the piano manufacturers of his day. Beethoven was such a rock star that the aristocracy pressured the manufacturers into changing the design of the piano so that they could hear the pieces that Beethoven had written. Mozart was born in 1756, 24 years before Beethoven was born and so Mozart played on the 66 key Fortepiano which you can see in this video. The keys are thinner and closer together and therefor are more difficult to play. I remember playing on Mozart’s 66 key piano in Salzburg way back in 1978 when I visited his house. Luckily I was also able to visit Beethoven’s home in Bonn in 1982. I definitely recommend a visit if you can get to Europe.

What do Pedals on the Piano Do?

Pianos, keyboards and digital pianos can have one to three foot pedals that perform various musical functions. The most important pedal is the Damper or Sustain pedal, usually found on the furthest right on acoustic instruments, and the only one for single pedal keyboards. The Damper/Sustain pedal controls how long the notes can be heard after playing them. The second most important pedal is the Soft pedal, otherwise known as the Una Corda. This controls how soft the piano sounds, and is usually the pedal furthest to the left on acoustic pianos. The third pedal – usually the middle one – varies in function, depending on the type of piano. On grand pianos, the middle pedal is known as a Sostenuto pedal. This pedal only holds notes that have been “locked” with the fingers, keeping the other notes free to be controlled by the other pedals or with the fingers alone. On upright pianos, the middle pedal is usually the practice pedal, moving a piece of felt between the hammers and strings to produce a muted sound, perfect for keeping the piano quiet and not disturbing others. For more information on pianos, visit Cunningham Piano Company’s website at http://cunninghampiano.com

In The Key of Genius

Holy shit…I’m beyond impressed with Derek’s talent! Wow, it’s super interesting to think that he’s clinically and medically incapacitated/slow and has the IQ of a 4-5 year old child, yet he’s been given such an amazing gift. I couldn’t imagine having to live my life everyday blind. Not being able to see at all would be heartbreaking. And just to think, that’s Derek’s normal. He’s never known anything other than living his life everyday without his sight. So being blind is completely normal for him. It’s awesome to see how happy of a person he is, and the amount of talent that young man has is incredible. Being able to play the piano that flawlessly without being able to see, and being able to play any song in the world after he’s heard it at least once on the piano is such a cool thing to be able to do. That man is not “mentally retarded.” Explain the musical talent then if he’s retarded? He’s amazing!

Autism Musical

We are writing a musical with our students right now. The musical, Havoc Marvel, is written from the viewpoint of the protagonist with autism. Most musicals are written from the viewpoint of the doctor, the parent. This point of view will surprise you. The lyrics and the music are intense, challenging and provocative.

We have seven songs written so far. We write the songs on keyboard, record in Audacity, voice is recorded on smartphone and then we convert the sound files from .m4a to .wav. You get good at something when you have to. Learning all these new recording and mixing skills has been a lot of fun.

We are now thinking about rehearsals and auditioning for the different roles. It is important to move forward even when all the songs are not finished. We will learn how to rehearse and addition. How many kids with autism will we find to include in the show? As many as we can. Follow this story as it develops and give us your feedback. Remember, in this new hyper online world, you can audition by Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, Zoom, Webex or any other platform you can think of. Or just make a video of yourself performing and post it on Instagram or YouTube or Vimeo.

We look forward to seeing what you can do.

Piano Genius

There is a young blind man who can play the piano like Mozart but cannot count to five or do up his own shoelaces. Can anyone explain the mystery of savant musician Derek Paraviccini? Derek, aged 25 at the time of this documentary, is autistic and totally blind with an IQ of a 4 year old, he sucks his thumb and lives in a home for the blind. But when he sits at a piano he is transformed into a musician that few could equal. His memory contains many thousands of tunes which he can play faultlessly and in any key, a skill which defies even the finest professional musicians. Nothing is beyond Derek’s musical range. Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, obscure Russian composers, modern Jazz, Pop and the Blues — they all seem to come naturally to Derek. Uncannily he can play something as he hears it for the very first time —with only a split second delay, so it appears he is playing along with a tune he knows well. Derek Paravicini was one of twins born at 25 weeks, in 1979. Back then, there was little that could be done for such early premature babies. The oxygen treatment given to Derek in the incubator unit was life-saving, but there was a major side-effect of the treatment – blindness. Derek’s blindness, called rentrolental fibroplasia, was caused when oxygen pushed on the blood vessels and caused them to grow too quickly and resulted in brain damage. So could Derek’s extraordinary musical talent be the result of brain damage caused during his resuscitation at birth or has he inherited his genius. This film explores his musical ability and that of other savant musicians to try and discover where their musical genius comes from.

10 steps to starting special needs piano

The videos complimenting this blog can be found at www.hurleypiano.com. I recommend you watch Black Key videos 1-20 before you read this article. I will answer any and all questions therapists, parents and teachers have about this method. So get emailing as soon as...

Two Nursery Rhyme Piano Favorites

By now you are getting the idea that while piano can be taught to special needs kiddos it requires just as much work as any other teaching tool in your clinic or piano studio. So let’s take a look at learning some easy pieces; Twinkle, Twinkle; Brother Jack; Row, Row,...

Piano Blog Making A Trailer

If you use a trailer as a sketch up for a documentary then you can use a blog as a sketch up for your trailer. This blog is my pre trailer sketch, the gathering of ideas and intuitions, the separation of hunches from false starts and good ideas from bad. At a very...

Special Needs Concert at Steinway

Steinway Piano Gallery Austin On June 13 2015 special needs students at Hurley Piano gave a piano recital at Steinway Piano Gallery in Austin Texwas. Students range from speech delay to aspergers, down syndrome, sensory processing disorder, cerebral palsy and...

Top 5 Reasons why Special Needs Music Lessons Are Helpful

There are many ways in which a piqued interest in music can lead to benefits for a lifetime. On the contrary, if that interest is somehow, suppressed, it could lead to dissatisfaction and annoyance at the subconscious level. And for those without the natural interest,...

Visual Strategies to Help Special Children Learn the Piano

Children with special needs learn better when they can relate their lessons to something visually attractive, say bold colors or shapes that they can easily recognize. It might take several weeks for them to be able to grasp a particular idea clearly, but with...

Chime Candy

Hi Check out my music app for kids with special needs launched yesterday: Chime Candy on the App Store Also available in Google Play Store. Please download, it is free and leave an out of the park five star review! Thanks Richard Hurley...

Lillypond: Independent Data Blockchain

Lillypond: A Platform for Independent Data Ownership By Richard Hurley and Keith Guidry “Many dedicated people join global non-profit organizations to help, but the market often fails to fund or incentivize building the necessary infrastructure. I have long expected...

This Year Autism and Music 2018

Watching so many of my students develop deeper skills at the keyboard has me thinking about new projects for HurleyPiano. Music and coding go hand in hand so we are currently researching a Kickstarter campaign to promote a coding and music project for the special...

Call it a miracle: how strangers got two special needs families across the border

After a treacherous journey, two Honduran families with special needs children make it to California When I left the migrant caravan in early November, it was on a dusty road leading to Veracruz and hope was sinking. Most were exhausted and sick from the journey. The...