If a child can match colours, then they can learn to play a melody on the keyboard!

I love teaching music, and teaching how to play the keyboard is really fun. I cannot think of a single child who I have taught, that didn’t enjoy touching and listening to the keyboard.

I have used single coloured cards and 1 or 2 coloured keys to initially start matching and learning, simply by  holding up 1 colour card and modelling touching that colour key on the keyboard.

teach keyboard to children with autism

I would then show up to 3 colours at a time and see if the child could follow each colour one by one. This can then be extended to 4 and 5 colours (brilliant for attention and focus!).

I would then prepare familiar tunes using colours. Here is an example of ‘Row, Row, Row your Boat’:

row your boat colour coded keyboard ASD Teacher teaching autistic children

Now, all of those colours could potentially be very overwhelming. I therefore made a card with a see-through middle to ensure only 1 line would be visible at a time, as can be seen in the photo below.

teaching autistic child to play keyboard using colour keys

Once a child was comfortable with playing a whole line, I could move the card down to continue through the tune.

The next stage would be to remove the line card and enable the child to play the whole tune.

I remember teaching one child a whole tune one week, going over the same tune the next week and during the following week, he played the whole tune without any support at all! He had remembered it all, and sang it beautifully!

Happy playing!

Steph Reed

Hi I’m Steph Reed, an Autism Specialist Teacher and Consultant. Following 10 years of teaching many incredible autistic young people with complex needs, I developed and led a School Autism Outreach Service, and have also been part of a senior leadership team as SENCo and Inclusion Leader. I now provide outreach, training and consultancy with practical support to schools, services and families using personalised, child-centered and evidence-based approaches. I also have personal experience of learning ‘differently’ and with success! I am here to support you in feeling confident and skilled in meeting diverse needs and ensuring children are reaching their potential.


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