My talented 9 year old "aspie" nephew is nuts about about music. He's been going to piano lessons for a few years, and has perfect pitch as well as great rhythm.
I had an idea to start giving him music lessons in my studio, and approached a friend of mine (an adult with Asperger's) for suggestions on how best to go about it. She gave me some valuable advice:
1. Remove clutter/distractions. Since this was not possible in my studio, which is littered with cables, guitars, sheet music, microphones etc. I turned the keyboard around so that my nephew would be facing a wall when we worked.
2. Don't busk. Have clear goals. I sat my nephew down and explained the process. I told him that the song would take weeks, possibly months to complete. Every week I reinforced this, explaining the day's activity & outcome, and how the lesson fitted into the long term goal of completing the song.
Here's how the first song was put together
I chose a song (“These boots are made for walking”) which I new would be fairly simple to record.
Every week we programmed a bit of the song in my studio. Starting with the kick drum, then adding snare, hi-hat and tambourine. Then the bass intro, followed by the rest of the bass line bar by bar.
I made sure my nephew played everything in himself. We did it over and over until he got it right. (I did quantise the tracks, but since he played them so many times until he got them right, they didn’t require much correction).
I taught him how to copy and paste, so bits that were repeated didn't have to be played in again.
The only part played by me was the guitar part. But he operated the computer when I played the guitar: He armed a track and pushed record and stop. Then I got him to cut the guitar part where I’d made a mistake so that I could drop in and fix it.
His homework every week was to listen to the CD and prepare for the next lesson.
The last thing we recorded was vocals. He learned the lyrics so well that we managed to lay down vocals for whole song in about 30 minutes!
The song took a total of six, one hour sessions to complete.
I've added a bit of compression and some reverb to the vocals, and this is what the end product sounds like:
Next week we’ll start on another song. If all goes well I’ll post the second song here, once it is complete.
I'm also teaching him reading. We start every lesson with 15 minutes of clapping rhythms. I'm only concentrating on quarter note rhythms for the time being. As we progress I'll add smaller note values and eventually start working with pitch too.
If you'd like to hear the music I compose for kids, please visit: www.africantreehouse.com