Click on any icon to see more details (or download the Who It’s For PDF):

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Teachers

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Parents

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Autism

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Processing Disorders

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Alzheimer’s & Dementia

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Teachers

It is not uncommon for piano teachers to feel somewhat ‘unqualified’ to teach students with special needs. This is completely understandable but easily remedied. The most important quality is simply a desire to understand and authentically connect with the student regardless of their circumstance. This is truly an opportunity to engage in a positive, life-changing experience.

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What is the Simply Music Gateway program?

The Simply Music Gateway Program (SMG) is designed to be taught by Licensed Simply Music Piano teachers. The SMG methodology has been specifically developed for those students who need strategies that have been modified and adapted to suit processing disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, cognitive disabilities, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or dementia-related disorders.

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How does it work for you?

Unlike the more ‘typical’ learner who can easily and quickly understand the concepts, abstractions, approaches and learning strategies of the Simply Music Piano curriculum, children with special needs require a different approach. Information needs to be far more concrete, broken into significantly smaller steps, and made as easy as possible to absorb. Fine motor issues are often prevalent and need to always be taken into account. Visual symbols can be difficult to decode, shapes and patterns are not easily recognized, and eye/hand coordination is weak or even non-existent. As such, the symbols, diagrams, concepts, abstractions, as well as many of the learning strategies that are used in the Simply Music Piano curriculum, are not used in the SMG Program. It is a unique, stand-alone curriculum that utilizes an entirely different approach.


The SMG curriculum is structured so that it can unfold over a 12-month period; however, a student may take longer or shorter than that, depending on their skills, level of capability and other factors. After completing the first level of the SMG Program, some students will be happy to continue on with the program and its specialized approach, whereas others may be ready to transition over to the Simply Music Piano program.

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What music is used in the Simply Music Gateway program?

The SMG Program uses a selection of great-sounding pieces of music, covering a variety of genres and styles, taken directly from the Simply Music Piano program. Initially, the pieces are explored as improvisatory experiences and, as skills develop, are then learned and acquired as part of the students’ playing repertoire.

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What is your role as a teacher in the Simply Music Gateway program?

The SMG Program offers a structured curriculum that is easy to follow and implement. You will need to set aside any typical expectations and simply meet the students where they are. Getting to know the student – personality, likes and dislikes, behavior patterns, motor issues, communication modality, etc. – along with the training and guidance provided in the Teacher Training Materials, will help you determine how to appropriately deliver the curriculum.

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Why is music important for any child?

The SMG program provides a unique pathway that gives students the opportunity to appreciate and experience their musicianship, as well as benefit from a program that contributes to their socialization, family, communication and life skills. This music program enables the child to become more aware of their own creative potential and ultimately discover new possibilities within themselves.

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Parents

Parents of children with special needs have much in common. They are often working 24/7 to make sure their children receive adequate health care, education and love. They face consistent demands that are often more complex than those of the average parent, and spend more time alone and isolated from typical mainstream community life. Parents learn to appreciate simple pleasures and get much joy from their child’s every step towards overcoming challenges and achieving goals. Introducing the Simply Music Gateway program to families gives parents an opportunity to work within a structured musical teaching system that explores creative potential while enhancing their child’s capacity for learning.

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What is the Simply Music Gateway program?

The Simply Music Gateway program (SMG) gives children with learning differences and other special needs the opportunity and ability to play the piano and experience music making without the need to acquire the technical, theoretical and physical skills and attributes typically associated with traditional methods of piano learning. The SMG curriculum is designed to unfold over a 12-month period, giving the student the necessary skills and confidence to continue onward in developing their musicianship or, potentially, migrating over to continuing with the Simply Music Piano program.


The SMG Program acknowledges the fact that not all children learn in the same way. All minds accept and process information differently. For mainstream learners, the differences fall within a sufficiently similar range of developmental processes that will meet with successful results in a chosen program. For children on the Autism Spectrum, or those with any kind of processing disorders, there is difficulty in sequencing, outlining or comprehending the steps needed to learn and assimilate information. The SMG program addresses these challenges in a unique, step by step approach that is easily understood.

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How does it work for you?

This program is able to isolate the different sensory stimuli within the lessons. Visual processing, fine motor development and auditory processing are separated within the steps, and only combined when the student becomes comfortable and familiar with each track. The use of improvisation makes it possible to try new skills while not having to learn specific notes or patterns. The experience of playing music without the burden of cognitive information makes learning fun and motivates the student to move forward.

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What Music is used in the program?

The SMG Program uses a selection of great-sounding pieces of music, covering a variety of genres and styles, taken directly from the Simply Music Piano program. As the songs are modified to the needs of the student, the music will quickly become familiar and be incorporated in the learning process. The student will then begin to progress naturally within the SMG program, or even transition into the Simply Music Piano program at a time when it is appropriate to their development.

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What is your role as a parent in the Simply Music Gateway program?

The SMG Program offers a structured curriculum that is easy to follow and understand. Helping your child with directions and guiding them in the exploration of new skills, encourages independence, creativity, singing and language, and provides a bonding experience that is both fun and rewarding.

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Why is music important for any child?

Music stimulates a child’s early brain development and aids the brain’s neural pathways. It also assists in the development of language and social skills, especially for children with autism and other cognitive issues.


See the following related studies:


The Effect of “Developmental Speech-Language Training through Music” on Speech Production in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Music May Hold the Key to Enhancing Language for Autistic Children – 7 Tips for Integration

Effects of Music Training on the Child’s Brain and Cognitive Development

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Autism

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Each individual with Autism is unique. Many have exceptional abilities in visual, music or academic skills, and many have normal to above average intelligence.

Most children previously diagnosed with autism disorder, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), or childhood disintegrative disorder are now diagnosed under the single title of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). To receive an ASD diagnosis, a child must also present with these symptoms during early childhood, and the symptoms must impair everyday function. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.

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What is the Simply Music Gateway program?

The Simply Music Gateway Program (SMG) allows children with autism and learning differences to “play” the piano and experience music making without the need to acquire the technical, theoretical and physical skills and attributes typically associated with traditional methods of piano learning.


All minds accept and process information differently. For mainstream learners, the differences fall within a sufficiently similar range of developmental processes that will meet with successful results in a chosen program. For children on the Autism Spectrum, or those with learning differences, sequencing, outlining or comprehending the steps needed to learn and assimilate information can be very difficult.


The success of the SMG program lies in its ability to isolate the different sensory systems, such as visual processing, fine motor development, and auditory training, while incorporating the actual music used in the Simply Music Piano curriculum. As these songs are modified for the needs of the individual, students will quickly become familiar with and incorporate the songs into the learning process, always making sure each new learning step reflects the student’s level of understanding.

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How Does it Work for you?

The SMG program is a unique, adaptive piano curriculum that has been created in order to give students with special needs and learning differences the opportunity to have music making be a real and meaningful part of their lives. Children on the Autism Spectrum need a creative outlet in which to explore ideas while having fun, without the cognitive pressure that comes with academic learning.The SMG program begins by “playing” on the keyboard in an improvisational approach, allowing the child freedom of movement and interactive music making, as well as the opportunity to incorporate the “whole” before learning the “parts”. The next step is learning the letters and location of the keys through a series of musical, playing-based activities that target specific fine motor issues. Learning piano has always been thought of as just that – learning the instrument for the sake of being able to play for musical enjoyment. However, the skills needed to play the piano are the same skills needed to perform daily tasks, such as dressing oneself, eating with a spoon or fork, manipulating tools, using a computer, drawing, writing, or cutting with scissors. For children and others who have fine motor difficulties, learning piano has not been an option in their lives, until now!

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What music is used in the Simply Music Gateway program?

The SMG Program uses a selection of great-sounding pieces of music, covering a variety of genres and styles, taken directly from the Simply Music Piano program. Initially, the pieces are explored as improvisatory experiences and, as skills develop, are then learned and acquired as part of the students’ playing repertoire.

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What is the role of the student learning with the Simply Music Gateway program?

The most important aspect of participating in the Simply Music Gateway Program is to enjoy the process of learning music, without pressure or expectation. The student will come to realize that music establishes a relationship between him/her and the teacher, as both engage in a creative endeavor, sharing the intangible essence of music as communication and language.

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Why is music important for children on the Autism Spectrum?

Music stimulates a child’s early brain development and aids the brain’s neural pathways. It also assists in the development of language and social skills, especially for children with autism and other cognitive issues.

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Processing Disorders & Cognitive Delays

A learning disability, or difference in learning style, is a neurological disorder resulting from a difference in the way a person’s brain is “wired.” Children with learning disabilities are as smart as or often smarter than their peers. However, they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information if left to figure things out by themselves, or if taught in conventional ways.


A learning disability is a lifelong issue, and cannot be “fixed”. However, with the right support and intervention, children with learning disabilities can succeed in school and go on to successful, often distinguished careers later in life. Parents can help their children achieve success by encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understanding the educational system, working with professionals and learning about strategies for dealing with specific difficulties.

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What is the Simply Music Gateway program?

The Simply Music Gateway Program is a step by step learning experience that brings music learning to those who process information differently. Through a creative, improvisational approach that teaches by using multi-sensory channels, the student can “play” the piano while processing the basics and developing new and important skills.

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How does it work for you?

The program works by recognizing the needs of children with attention and focus issues, language and sequencing problems, and possible fine motor eye/hand coordination issues. By teaching visually at first, and introducing patterns on the whole keyboard, a child begins to explore the black and white notes through structured improvisation that lets them play anything and still sound really good. After reaching a comfort level with the keyboard, working on auditory and kinesthetic activities, such as learning letter names and developing finger dexterity, are a natural next step towards playing songs. The incremental, step-by-step approach ensures success and motivation to continue.

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What music is used in the Simply Music Gateway program?

The SMG Program uses a selection of great-sounding pieces of music, covering a variety of genres and styles, taken directly from the Simply Music Piano program. Initially, the pieces are explored as improvisatory experiences and, as skills develop, are then learned and acquired as part of the students’ playing repertoire.

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What is the role of the student learning with the Simply Music Gateway program?

The most important aspect of participating in the Simply Music Gateway Program is to enjoy the process of learning music, without pressure or expectation. The student will come to realize that music establishes a relationship between him/her and the teacher, as both engage in a creative endeavor, sharing the intangible essence of music as communication and language.

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Why is music important for children with Processing Disorders and Cognitive Delays?

Studies have found that music has a unique interaction with the brain – causing synapses to fire in certain regions – which makes it highly effective for increasing cognitive development and overcoming many other physical, social, and emotional problems. Children who suffer from ADD or ADHD also have shown improvements in attention, concentration, impulse control, socialization, memory, self -expression and confidence levels.

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Alzheimer’s & Dementia

People in many countries who are more than sixty years of age are commonly referred to as senior citizens or seniors. There is really no single definition or description of this population, which is highly varied in lifestyle, health issues and personal development. In a report based on various sources of demographic data, the Census Bureau said that in July 2011 there were 41.4 million people in the USA that were age 65 or older. This number was a significant increase from 40.3 million in April 2010. The number of seniors in the USA is projected to reach 92 million by 2060, with 18.2 million age 85 or older. There are many seniors still in the workforce, and others who choose retirement.


As people age, physical and neurological issues emerge, with Alzheimer’s, being the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities, serious enough to interfere with daily life. The disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.

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What is the Gateway Program?

The Simply Music Gateway Program (SMG) is a step by step, adaptive piano learning experience that brings music learning to those who are noticing that they are now processing information differently, or are no longer memorizing information as easily as they once did. Through a creative, improvisational and systematic approach that teaches by using multi-sensory channels, the student can play the piano while processing the basics as well as potentially reigniting important skills, attributes and faculties.

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How does it work for you?

New research published in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests that playing a musical instrument during adulthood is significantly associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Whether for treating dementia, stroke symptoms or just to reignite and newly stimulate the brain, the SMG Program provides students with a framework and systematic approach that facilitates easier and more rapid learning. Beginning with structured improvisation this program allows people to engage in playing and experience their musicianship without the need to acquire the technical, theoretical and physical skills and attributes typically associated with traditional methods of piano learning.

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What music is used in the program?

The SMG Program uses a selection of great-sounding pieces of music, covering a variety of genres and styles, taken directly from the Simply Music Piano program. Initially, the pieces are explored as improvisatory experiences and, as skills develop, are then learned and acquired as part of the students’ playing repertoire.

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What is the role of the student learning with the Simply Music Gateway program?

Every student in the Gateway program takes one step at a time. Being free to experience natural musicianship and learn the piano with neither expectations nor pressure, contributes to a positive, lasting and valuable experience.

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Why is music important for seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

Music, as we know, has the power to affect us both emotionally and physically. Individuals are influenced by the motor center of the brain that responds directly to auditory rhythmic cues. A person’s ability to engage in music remains intact late into the disease process, because these activities do not require cognitive functioning for success!

How Do I Find A Simply Music Teacher?

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The Simply Music Gateway Program is taught by Licensed Simply Music Piano Teachers who have been trained in how to modify and adapt playing-based learning strategies to suit those students (of any age) who have processing disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, cognitive disabilities, ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.


To find a Simply Music Piano Teacher in your area, use our Locator Map:

Locate a Teacher