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

Posted: 3:33 PM, Jul 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-12 15:33:30-04
College of Music
College of Music
College of Music

EAST LANSING, Mich. — “ Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life [music.msu.edu] will take place July 15-20, providing advanced music students who are on the autism spectrum with instruction, performance opportunities, lectures and on-campus living designed to immerse them into a complete collegiate experience.

For the fourth consecutive year, this one-of-a-kind summer piano festival created by artists at the Michigan State University College of Music will offer students a glimpse into the life of a music major with a rigorous schedule that culminates in their own public recital.

Students participating in this year’s program include Kodi Lee who recently shot to fame after an appearance on the popular America’s Got Talent television show [youtu.be] . Lee is considered a musical prodigious savant, and joining him are five other talented young musicians including Jack O’Hare, a multi-instrumentalist who is comfortable playing Chopin, Bach and jazz pianist Bill Evans, and classically trained identical twins Dexter and Jaxson Schroeder, plus two returning participants from last year, David Ginther and Masha Staples.

Their week-long experience features daily master classes on piano repertoire taught by MSU Professor of Piano Deborah Moriarty, chair of the College of Music Piano Area, and Derek Polischuk, MSU, associate professor of piano and director of piano pedagogy. Other activities include informative lectures by MSU professors in musicology, music theory and neuropsychology, guided Pilates for rest and relaxation and to raise body awareness, classes in chamber music and jazz improvisation, and meals and evening activities on the MSU campus.

The participants will be guided throughout by a team of program assistants made up of excellent pianists and teachers who train under the piano faculty at MSU. The program assistants will perform their own recital on the opening night of the festival, July 15 at 6:00 p.m. and the program participants will perform in a Finale Concert on Saturday, July 20 at 4:00 p.m. both events will be held at Cook Recital Hall in the MSU Music Building, 333 W. Circle Drive (due to construction, visitors are asked to enter the east side of the building, adjacent to the Music Practice building). Concerts are free and open to the public.

The program is in partnership with the C-RAIND Program, an MSU-based Center for Research in Autism, Intellectual and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities that serves students with autism. C-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.

“Going into our fourth year, this festival has established itself as an effective learning environment for cultivating the talents of advanced pianists on the Autism Spectrum,” says Polischuk. “We have a number of new students this year, so we are excited to track their progress as they are immersed in this exciting week of learning.,”
A major goal of “Celebrating the Spectrum” is to improve perceptions about the potential of students on the autism spectrum attending college. In time, the founders of the program also hope that it makes an impactful contribution to research and teaching methods.

The College also partners with various departments and resources across campus to provide the essential support, services and special accommodations necessary for students.

Organizers of Celebrating the Spectrum have traveled to speak about the program’s positive outcomes locally, nationally and internationally at conferences and events about autism and piano pedagogy.

Organizers of Celebrating the Spectrum have traveled to speak about the program’s positive outcomes locally, nationally and internationally at conferences and events about autism and piano pedagogy.

Celebrating the Spectrum: A Festival of Music and Life is sponsored by Michigan State University as part of the C-RAIND Program, with generous support provided by the MSU Office of the Provost, Lauren Harris, and corporate sponsor the MSU Federal Credit Union. Additional support has been provided by the Frances Baldwin Mulnix Endowment Fund at MSU and the Michigan Teachers National Association. Special thanks to Dean Transportation for generously providing all transportation needs for festival participants.

Private support helps provide dollars to sponsor each student participant, enabling them to attend the festival tuition free. Funds also cover stipends for College of Music student mentors who play a critical role in the experience of festival participants.

To learn more about the program, visit Celebrating the Spectrum online [music.msu.edu]

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