Modified Music-ation for Kids with Special Needs

Take a catchy song your kid loves. Pair it with a challenging task or subject he hates. Rewrite a few lyrics. And get ready to hear him sing a different tune.

Jacob Levy shows you how starting April 15 with Modified Music-ation – that’s “music + education” for students with special needs – in Farmington Hills. It uses ditties as tools to help kids ages 7-12 with developmental or learning disabilities.

How’s it work? Let’s take “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” It’s the same tune as “The Alphabet Song,” right? And how did most of learn our ABCs?

“It’s through melody,” says Levy, a jazz musician and special ed teacher. “I’m expanding on that concept. We start with the melody and then we go backwards.”

Using a piano, Levy teaches kids rhythm basics and one seven-note scale. Then comes the tweak. “Twin-kle, Twin-kle Little Star,” a seven-syllable phrase, turns into, “Re-mem-ber to … wash your hands,” for example. And “Go Go Pow-er Ran-gers” could be “three plus four is sev-en.” Says Levy, “These simple, tiny melodies work really well.” (Another goody is that “Everybody Dance Now” ’90s jam.)

Levy’s seen it help kids with anything from ADHD to autism. It even helped him. “Growing up with a learning disability myself, I had a lot of trouble absorbing information,” says Levy, now 32. “Music clicked with me right away.” Kids with ASD especially benefit: “Their hearing is incredible. A lot of them have perfect pitch.” This series is “modified” for each attendee. Parents and educators are encouraged to come. Levy, from Beverly Hills, also arranges private lessons.

“It’s like a tool kit,” says Levy. “I’m just giving you another tool to help.” –

Sign up information

Ages: 7-12
Date: 5:30-6:15 p.m. Wednesdays, April 15-May 6
Location: Costick Center, 28600 W. 11 Mile Road, Farmington Hills
Register: By Monday April 13; requires four minimum (18-20 max)
Cost: $90/nonresident, $80/city resident
Contact: 248-473-1856, recreg.fhgov.com

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