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It was a flute lesson he had waited very eagerly for. But when his grandparents took him to the music school at Plaza Singapura for his lesson at 8.15pm on Friday, they were told that his instructor did not want to teach him anymore.

Alex had started flute lessons at Yamaha Contempo Music School the week before. He is not completely new to the instrument - more than a year ago, he had lessons with Mr Zaidi Sabtu-Ramli, a composer/conductor friend of mine. We stopped his lessons because Zaidi had to travel on account of work, and by the time he was back there were changes in my schedule as well as Alex's that made it inconvenient to resume his lessons. Lately, however, grandma spoke to Alex and decided it was easier if he has his lessons during weekends when she looks after him. Alex was quite thrilled to resume his flute lessons and grandma enrolled him at Yamaha.He had his first lesson there. He told me afterwards how much he enjoyed it. Then came the shock cancellation of his second lesson - when he was already at the school.

Now I've never said this publicly before, but Alex, who is 12 years old, is a special-needs child: He is autistic. People who are unaware or unfamiliar with his condition might find him strange. They may not be able to communicate with him because you need to get his attention and engage him, otherwise he'll appear uninterested. You may even think he's rude or ignoring you as autistic children sometimes appear to be in their own world. Cara and I do not normally discuss his condition because we don't want any sympathy for him or unnecessary attention, but in this instance, his autism is part of the story.

He has unusual talents, though. He can identify every flag of every sovereign country in the world and name and spell their administrative capitals without the benefit of spellcheck. He loves animals, too, and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of these. He once showed me a picture of an animal and asked me what it was. Looks like a goat, I said. He glowered at me and retorted: "It's a Himalayan tahr."

Because of his condition, Alex is very sensitive to sound and noise. And perhaps because of that, he's able to coax some of the most beautiful sounds out of his musical instruments. I've let him fiddle with my old violin and when he bows, it's a warm, mellow timbre - none of the jarring, scratchy noises you hear from many a beginner. And when I bought him his flute, he attained a practicable embouchure within seconds. (That's getting your mouth in the right shape and blowing through the hole in the mouthpiece to get some sound out of it. It can be very challenging for beginners.)

More at http://www.domainofexperts.com/2017/08/teacher-at-yamaha-music-school-refused.html



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Re: Teacher at Yamaha Music School refused to teach autistic child
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2017, 05:03:57 pm »
LOL, a straightforward discrimination.

I was gonna ask if maybe the teacher said he or she is not qualified enough to teach children with autism, but I guess as a part PR damage control campaign something like this would be said anyway, so anyway....

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