School of Rock and a Special Visit

Ryan has had a strong interest in music for as long as I can remember. I used to sing to him as a baby (not very well, but I tried) and he has always enjoyed listening to music whether it was on one of his favorite shows or some CDs I played for him on car rides. If you have been following our blog for a while, you may remember that Ryan had music lyric lessons with Ben and wrote a few songs. He had also asked for CDs for his birthday a few years back and a guitar as well.

Grace has been attending School of Rock for almost 2 years now. Each season of School of Rock consists of a midseason show and a season ending show in which the kids perform songs that they have been practicing the entire term. Ryan supports Grace and has tolerated the loud atmosphere of the concerts. After the season finale show in January, Ryan asked if he could learn to play music. He told me: I AM MUSICALLY INCLINED. I CAN PLAY THE NOTES IN MY HEAD. He also asked: CAN I DO SCHOOL OF ROCK? This was not the first time he had asked. I told him that I would do my best to make it happen. I asked him what instrument he wanted to play and he responded: LOVE GUITAR. Grace and I explained to him that he would likely need to start with piano because guitar requires a lot of fine motor skills and piano would be a better option for now. He agreed with that so I approached the manager at School of Rock and we set up a trial lesson for Ryan.

Ryan met with Melissa, the musical director for School of Rock. We started with introductions and Ryan interviewed Melissa about her job. She then began with the C scale. She explained to Ryan that she was going to start with some nursery rhymes as she does that with all of her new students, regardless of their age because they are easy and most people know the melodies. They played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Ryan needed (and continues to need) physical support to play the piano. In addition, he uses just one finger. This is hands on, with the goal to be able to fade away the support over time as Ryan’s muscle memory improves. She asked him what kind of music he liked and he replied: REALLY LOVE CELINE DION. She told him that that was great and that she would pick some Celine Dion songs to work on for the next lesson.

Ryan was completely engaged the entire time and did not try to get up from the piano bench or leave. He loved it. I knew that after that trial lesson, that this was the right fit for Ryan. This was in the beginning of February and Ryan has had weekly lessons with Melissa since then. Here is what he wrote a few weeks back after a lesson with Randy and me in the classroom.

REALLY LIKED THE LESSON TODAY. MELISSA IS AMAZING. SHE REALLY TREATS ME WITH RESPECT. I CAN’T BELIEVE I CAN PLAY CELINE DION SONGS. I HAVE HOPED IN MY MIND THAT I WOULD SOMEDAY REALLY PLAY MUSIC AND IT IS COMING TRUE. DO YOU FEEL PROUD OF ME MOM AND DAD?

Melissa and Ryan.

In this time, Ryan has learned 5 scales and has been working on My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion and You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban. Often when Melissa and Ryan are practicing, she will say something like, “I am sorry that I messed you up Ryan as you were going to the correct key and I wasn’t.”

I have found that when I practice with Ryan, I am often hindering his progress because I can’t keep up. This is a learning curve for me too as music does not come naturally to me and I need to practice as well.

I am so thankful for Melissa and School of Rock as they are able to fill a void in Ryan’s education/development that I am not equipped to help him with. In addition, Grace has taken the lead on the at home practice with Ryan. She is helping him practice twice a week. Ryan has said more than once REALLY GRACE IS BEST TO PRACTICE WITH. I don’t take any offense to that because I completely agree with him.

From late February, Ryan and Grace practicing together.

So Ryan will continue to have lessons and over time, we hope that he will be able to play piano independently. This may take a while, but he is learning and having fun, so we are in no rush.

Here is what Ryan had to say:

I REALLY LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT SCHOOL OF ROCK. TOTALLY FEEL LIKE A MUSICIAN NOW.

*****

Last weekend, one of Ryan’s best friends, Lawson, came into town with his mom, Leslie for a visit. Our first stop was Chipotle for dinner. Once we got in line and saw them, Ryan spelled: EACH DAY I PRAYED TO SEE LAWSON AGAIN AND NOW HE IS HERE. I teared up when he finished as I know how much Lawson means to Ryan. After dinner, we headed back home for some cupcakes for my birthday.

Blowing out Mom’s birthday candles!

The next morning, Ryan had another seizure, so we kept the day low key. Ryan usually sleeps for a few hours after so we rested but finally ventured out to pick up some take out and hang at home.

Sunday was low key as well as Ryan’s anti-epileptic medication was increased which made him tired.

Despite all of this, it was a great weekend. The thing about great friends is that just being in their company made it a great weekend. Leslie and I got to catch up a lot and Ryan and Lawson got to spend time hanging out with each other. Best friends don’t need words.

The best selfie that I could get.

After the visit, Ryan said this:

REALLY LAWSON IS MY BEST FRIEND. HE DEARLY GETS ME. I KNOW HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT ME. I CARE FOR HIM SO MUCH. I CAN’T WAIT TO VISIT HIM IN ARKANSAS.

We head out of town this week for Ryan’s Aunt Sam’s wedding! We will be sure to fill everyone in when we return!


3 thoughts on “School of Rock and a Special Visit

  1. What an excellent post. Ryan you and your Mom, Dad and Sister are amazing. Seeing the whole family work together is inspiring. And hats off to Melissa for stepping up and working with you. Must be rewarding for you both. And Celine Dion is awesome—great choice!! Stephanie I did enjoy the photos and especially the selfie. Keep up the good work!

    Like

  2. Hi Ryan,
    One of my young friends at a school where I do counseling has autism. I showed him your blog and he was impressed. He is a pretty amazing young man and so are you. Keep up the good work!
    Valerie Grabowski

    Like

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