Reimagining Education

Music leads to new horizons for special needs learners

Lacefield Music Company

On August 29 I took my children to see a music recital presented by the Lacefield Music Company.  In many ways it was like any other recital, with some participants in the beginning stages of their musical education and others with many hours and years of practice under the belts.  The difference was that every one of the musicians featured that day was on the autism spectrum and ranged in age from 8 to 38.  I was touched and amazed at the talent and commitment of these musicians as well their instructors and music therapists.

Lacefield Music Company has a special commitment to individuals on the Autism spectrum and other disibilties that they state very clearly in their mission statement:

“To provide a place where anyone, Regardless of age or musical experience or ability, could fulfill a lifelong dream of learning to play a musical instrument as well as a place, to purchase top quality instruments, operating with a sense of corporate responsibility placing customer service at the top of its priorities list.”

I had the opportunity to briefly meet Cathy Krubsack, President of Lacefield Music and grandmother to a child with autism.  In 1995 Cathy and her son opened a store in St. Louis that would help them fulfill this mission, offering opportunities for anyone, regardless of ability, to enjoy music and learn how to play an instrument.

Music is and always has been a part of daily life in my household.  My children freely play instruments and break into song at will in our house, in the car, in the grocery store, and sometimes during performances at recitals.  Although I am a music teacher and taught piano for many years we have been looking for a place just like Lacefield to start formal instruction for Ben in piano and voice.  Music opens up many pathways socially and emotionally as well as in language and other areas of development for all children and for some children on the spectrum.  Ben struggles with speech and language, but give him a song that he likes to sing and the words just flow from him.  In fact, Ben has been known to sing a song beginning to end after only having heard it one time.  He has also exhibited an understanding of intervals on the piano in the same manner after hearing a song on television and then going to the piano and playing the melody after finding the first note.  This is pretty amazing considering his struggles with his studies in school.  It is my belief that the investment of time, effort, and money in a music program for Ben will enhance the other areas of study and life for him.

Once soccer has ended this fall we will begin piano and voice lessons and I will keep you posted as to Ben’s progress, unless he decides on a different instrument.  Last week he said he wanted to play a saxophone and this summer he said he wanted to play the fiddle.  It seems that in many ways my kiddo is quite typical and I am sure that at some point drums and/or the electric guitar will appear on his horizon of interest.

Sally Oelzen

[NOTE:  Here is a video of one of the musicians, Darrius Roberts, featured at the Lacefield recital:]

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