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MSU College of Music hosts summer program for pre-college students on the autism spectrum

Posted: 2:04 PM, Jul 12, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-12 14:13:17-04
MSU College of Music hosts summer program for pre-college students on the autism spectrum

Michigan State University’s College of Music will host its third annual summer piano festival specifically designed to benefit advanced music students who are on the autism spectrum. 

“Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life”  will take place from July 16 to 21. 

The weeklong experience ends with a recital at 11 a.m. July 21 at Cook Recital Hall, which is inside the Music Building at 333 W. Circle Drive. The event is open to the public.

Derek Polischuk , MSU associate professor of piano and director of piano pedagogy, teaches piano to students with autism through  MSU’s Community Music School

“Every year we look to build on our successes and find new ways to elevate the experience of our students,” Polischuk said. “Our students demonstrate a remarkable amount of progress in just one week, and with the introduction of jazz improvisation last year, I’m always amazed to discover how adaptive and confident these young pianists are.” 

A few years ago, he and Professor of Piano Deborah Moriarty, chair of the College of Music piano area, contacted the RAIND Program — the MSU-based institute for Research in Autism, Intellectual and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities that serves students with autism. They discussed a weeklong, immersive experience and the idea came to life.

In addition to the music instruction, practice and performances, the critical goals of “Celebrating the Spectrum” include improving perceptions about the potential of students attending college and making impactful contributions to research and teaching methods, Polischuk said.

RAIND is made up of a coalition of scholars and researchers from MSU that are focused on meeting the needs of communities through research, outreach, artistry and education