Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

cerebral palsy student

Hello fellow teachers,
I am looking for some help for one of my students. I am teaching a general music course in an alternative high school and we are working on drumming and guitars. I have one student who has cerebral palsy and can't use his left side of his body. His left hand doesn't work, but his right side of the body works great. He is getting upset and wants to drop my class because he can't "play the right way". What can I do to keep him interested and maybe find him other avenues to work on? I have an ipad, what apps could he use? 
on October 7, 2013 7:49am
You might look into body percussion that can be done with one hand, such as side slaps on the outside thighs, slaps on a lifted knee, stomped foot, etc. Keith Terry is amazing but there are lots of YouTube vids for reference.
Sing on!
on October 7, 2013 4:00pm
The right way is a solid steady rythmn.  There are many songs written for left hand only on the piano. Composed for the loss of a limb.
percussion has so many avenues. I have students making instruments, that are ingenious, sound great and are fun to play. Orff instruments can be played one handed. Bass drum and high hat use feet. Being creative is really fun and so rewarding. Think outside the box.
on October 7, 2013 4:43pm
Perhaps your student can get some inspiration from the story of the rock drummer who lost his left arm in a horrible car accident, and found a way to keep drumming and stay with the band:
Do you have an electric keyboard in the classroom?  Could he learn to play chords on it to participate in the group music-making?  A pianist/organist colleague of mine lost the use of her right hand after a stroke in her 30s, but found that she could still play in a jazz band by chording ("comping") with her left hand.  He could add harmonic support to the guitars and drums with right-hand chords and riffs. There must be keyboard simulation apps that could accomplish this as well.
best wishes,
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 7, 2013 8:18pm
In reading your post, the thing that comes to mind for me is that there isn't one right way to make music, and every musician is different.  Maybe you could pull this student aside and discuss the idea that "the right way" for one student isn't necessarily the right or best way for another.  It's not about doing things "the right way;" it's about learning to do things "the best way" for the individual.  For example: I'm a soprano.  When I'm going for a high note, I wouldn't dream of using a more closed vowel.  But for many classical tenors, that's exactly the thing that makes their high notes pop out.  What is the right way to sing for me would be the wrong way to sing for a different singer.  A left-handed guitarist might play better with a left-handed guitar.  I am woefully bereft of sports analogies, but maybe somebody could suggest some to you along the same line of thought.  
I hope this student is able to find encouragement.  There's no reason that he can't learn to make music, especially if he is willing to try some unique, different techniques.  I wish you all the best in working with him!
Applauded by an audience of 3
on October 8, 2013 4:28am
For drumming, one could consider adding a junjun part - the BEST and most fun parts, IMHO!
Adding a keyboard with your guitar study...teach him different kinds of bass lines to join in.
Good luck,
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 9, 2013 12:49pm
Does your student have any use in his left side, even gross motor skills.    You could a. tune his guitar to D-A-D-F#-A-D and work with him more on chord theory rather than muscle memory for guitar chords (if they can do a bar across all 6 strings.)  or go straight ear training with them and make sure they can pick out chord progressions by ear. have that student be the one who tabs out everything for the other students, the Phil Spector of the class.  you know, minus the crazy. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 9, 2013 4:52pm
Over the years, I have had many singers with various physical and other challenges - sometimes singing or making music is the one thing that keeps them motivated in other areas of their lives/schooling.  For another perspective, here is a link to a wonderful TED Talk by Dame Evelyn Glennie, the profoundly deaf percussionist, who is incredible to watch and hear:
Hope others find this inspiring too!
Best wishes,
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.