Posted by: Marie | December 29, 2009

(213) Little moments – Part 2 of 2

Post #213
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, August 8, 2009 – continued from previous post]

Matt’s mom has been encouraging me to use firm, affectionate touch as a way to give encouraging feedback to him. Today, I mentioned to her that I’m struggling with feeling comfortable doing what she suggested (bear hugs, scalp and back massages, etc.) So, she encouraged me to do modified versions — to squeeze his arm or pat his back — she would like for me to do as much as I feel comfortable doing. So, that gives me a middle ground — that is good. I can do that.


Matt has steadfastly refused to play “songs” in our lessons. He will play them for his mom – she is also a piano teacher but was not making progress with him before this year because the “traditional” curriculum she uses wasn’t working for him. However, with me teaching him theory and architecture using audio-based methods, her traditional methods are now working. He will play songs for her. Just not for me.

That is okay . . . I fully believe that, with the two of us teaching him from different directions, he will someday make the connection in the middle and put it all together. At that time, I believe his playing with improve dramatically and quickly.

Hakka Tung Blossom by Martin Chen

A leap I have been trying to make with him would connect the chords he loves so much to passages of music. I want him to know that music is made up of a series of chord progressions. I have been using the one song he will play for me – “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” – to attempt that leap. So far, he has not made the connection – until today – I think.

At the end of the lesson today, we moved from the kitchen counter back to the piano. We assumed our normal position . . I sit on the piano bench and he stands between my knees, I put an arm on either side of him. That way, we both have our hands on the keyboard.

I have been teaching him to identify chords by ear (root note and chord type) . . . which he can do if I keep them simple and in the root position. Today, I showed him how a chord in an inverted position was still the same chord . . . and that a chord in an arpeggiated form was still the same chord. I showed him that a chord in a simple form has the same “feel” as the same chord in a more complex form. He got it, I think – at least, he was employing his “I get it” body movements when I was showing him.

Since he seemed to be getting that concept, I decided to try, once more, to make the leap to how chords fit into the architecture of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. I played the song slowly, first using simple chords, then using more complex forms of the chords. Both times through I described to him the chords I was using.

During this process, he got very quiet and still. He then laid his head up against my head so our cheeks were touching, both of us facing the keyboard. Since he was so close, I could speak very softly. I continued describing the progression to him. Each time I identified a chord, he would ever-so-slightly nod his head and quietly say, “uh-huh”. Once in a while, I’d ask him what chord I was playing – he answered correctly more often than not.

It was one of those moments where I felt there was a direct connection between our spiritual energies. It was like he was downloading information from my computer bank to his, via our hearts. It was a profound – and healing – moment for me.

I am blessed by the presence of this little boy in my life. It is the most unlikely partnership . . . I have no formal training in education or music. I have no experience with teaching developmentally challenged kids – I didn’t even know what autism was until a year ago. Music has been absent from my life for so long that I have forgotten how to play the piano in an accomplished manner. I have no qualifications that justify my role as his teacher.

Yet, here we are.

All I know is that I am guided by wordless voices . . . maybe they are the voices of angels whispering in my ear. They are the same voices I hear when I’m comforting a traumatized animal or a fussy baby. I just know what I’m supposed to do – and how to do it. I just have to listen with my heart.

Once again . . . I’m left wondering . . . how does God fit into all of this? When Matt had his cheek snuggled against mine, I could feel God manifested in this precious bundle of a human being. I could sense the divine plan that gifted this little boy with breath-taking talent. I could sense the divine plan that is allowing my healing to occur through his presence in my life.

Maybe it is easier to feel God now that I have money in the bank, now that I know how I’m going to buy groceries next week. Maybe it is easier to feel God when I am filled with awe instead of anger. I guess I have always known there is a God. I just am not sure how to fulfill my part of the relationship with him.

Maybe I can learn about God from Matt – the wise one who effortlessly teaches me through his own innocence and pure expression. Maybe it is I who is the student here.

Quotes 124


  1. This is really a special post. I can see the spiritual aspect to this. I can also see it as “that which is and has always been in you” (the ability to do music).

    • Hey, Paul –

      I feel very honored by your words . . . thank you for your kindness . . .

      – Marie

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