Matthew had regular piano lessons with Rosie Cross from the age of 12 until he left for College 7 years later. Matthew learnt to play many simple tunes with one and two hands, and at the age of 16 passed the ABRSM preparatory exam. He loved being able to play for himself the childrens’ songs and songs about animals that he has been familiar with since he listened to them on tapes as a little boy. He was proud to do his piano practice entirely independently and to perform simple pieces with different parts for each hand for small audiences.
All of these things were and still are an important part of his identity.
Like many people with learning disabilities, when he started lessons with Rosie, Matthew found music notation difficult to follow, but he was very quick to learn the note names of the keys on the piano keyboard. For Matthew as for her other disability pupils, Rosie used sequences of note names to guide her pupils in the playing of tunes. I had the idea to put the note names in the heads of all the notes on ordinary music scores, so that pupils could use the music notation and learn to read it by associating the position of the notes with the note names. This seemed to work well, so Lucy Cross developed the music notation system I devised using Microsoft Powerpoint into the Notation system that you can find on the Melody website – many simple tunes have been given the Melody Notation treatment, and it is designed to be easy for teachers & other helpers to use the system to transform favourite tunes of their own.