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Berklee Music Lessons Program for Adults with Autism

The Berklee Music Lessons Program for Adults with Autism provides free, online, weekly individual and group musical instrument lessons to adults on the autism spectrum. Sessions take place in two, ten-week semesters in the fall and spring. The program is led by seasoned instructors from the Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education (BIAAE), who oversee logistics and curriculum development, and supervise three instructors and a team of up to four volunteer apprentices. The instructors are current graduate students or alumni from the BIAAE’s only-of-their-kind graduate programs in Music Education and Autism, where they learn evidence-based best practices for teaching music to people with autism. The autistic adult participants learn to use a variety of technologies to study, practice, and create music on conventional band instruments (flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and percussion), as well as with digital instruments (computer software-based instruments). Students’ musical performances are created and shared using BandLab, a cloud-based musical creation and collaboration platform. The program has four main objectives: (a) to help adults with autism to develop their musical skills and to learn more about their instruments and about music; (b) to engage adults with autism in group musical experiences and in performances; (c) to create a safe, accessible space where adults with autism can gather, form a community, forge friendships, and learn; and (d) to help newer BIAAE instructors to develop their skills as accessible music educators under the guidance of more experienced educators.