Special Needs Music Classes for NYC Kids
As a musician turned stay-at-home-mom, I've made sure that music plays a major part in my children's lives. But that's been a bit of a challenge with my oldest son, who was born with multiple disabilities, including severe sensory issues. He cried at the sound of applause at concerts, ran and hid whenever he heard the "Happy Birthday" song (you can imagine how well that played out during school) and screamed at me to "Stop singing with the radio! You're hurting my ears!" Bruised ego aside, it killed me that my son wasn't able to experience and love music the way the rest of my family did, but there didn't seem to be anything I, or a team of therapists for that matter, could do about it.
When we moved to New York City, I was thrilled to find so many special needs-friendly activities, and quickly signed my son up for adaptive baseball, soccer and basketball. And, since I refused to let go of my dream of turning him on to music, I decided to give Daniel's Music Foundation a try.
During our initial interview, I explained my son's anxiety with music in general, but the staff didn't seem fazed. His first day of classes went well, and while I waited to pick him up, I heard the teacher announce a birthday. I froze, waiting for the meltdown. Nothing. I peeked anxiously inside. My son was sitting next to a helper, calmly waiting for the next song. It was a miracle! And the progress didn't stop there. Six months later, he stood on stage for the first time in his life and performed in the DMF holiday show. As the end of the song neared, he began to cry in anticipation of the applause. DMF cofounder Mike Trush hopped up on stage and helped my son stay up there through the clapping. Four years later, my son now performs with a proud grin on his face, even during the applause.
While DMF has earned a permanent place in our schedule and my heart, I'm happy to tell you that there are many New York City programs that give children with special needs the chance to learn an instrument or how to sing, and to perform on stage—in front of strangers no less. Here are some of our favorites: