Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


John J. Cali School of Music

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Karen Goodman

Committee Member

Brian Abrams

Committee Member

Lisa DeLorenzo


Music therapy is a well known means of creating emotional, academic and social advances in the life of children with autism. However, private instrumental instructions, a form of music therapy for this population, are not easily accessible. Not many piano teachers have the experience, background or understanding needed to teach students with varying degrees of challenges in sensory integration, information processing, aural and visual discrimination, motor problems and low muscle tone.

The literature review in this thesis includes an overview of autistic spectrum disorder, the special learning needs of the child with autism, and general piano pedagogy theories, strategies and techniques, which pave the way for the adaptation of piano pedagogy for learners with ASD.

The author concludes that the music therapist providing adapted piano instruction should emphasize teacher-student bonding, rhythm entrainment, improvisation, and visual and auditory discrimination skills. These areas are explored in greater depth and also demonstrated at various functioning levels through the introduction of three related case studies.

File Format


Included in

Music Therapy Commons