High schoolers with autism learning how to create music - FOX 35 News Orlando

High schoolers with autism learning how to create music

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Charlie Grover teaching at Axis Music Academy in Southfield.  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Charlie Grover teaching at Axis Music Academy in Southfield. (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)

17-year-old Matt Keith is composing his first rap.  He's in a high level computer music class at Axis Music Academy in Southfield.

Students in the class are all from Aim High School just north of Ann Arbor.

"It's curriculum is directed towards students with high functioning autism," said teacher Molly Urquhart.

However, AHS has no music program, and for kids who struggle to communicate, music can be a creative outlet, giving them a voice while teaching great technical skills.

The president of Wish Upon a Teen Foundation, whose four-year-old was recently diagnosed with autism, recognized the need.
"My goal was to launch a music program through Wish Upon a Teen to provide music to the community that wouldn't normally get a music opportunity," said Michelle Soto.

Wish Upon a Teen connected with the newly formed Axis Music Foundation and together gave these students the opportunity to come to Axis and learn how to create their own songs.
"What's incredible about computer-based recording and editing is what used to take up a whole room with these massive mixing counsels and all this awkward gear is now on a computer," said Axis owner John Antone.  "So you can take it anywhere and with a microphone and a couple other little devices, that you can make some pretty incredible music wherever you are."

Go back about 15 years and check out Charlie Grover, drummer for the alternative rock band Sponge.  He's one of the instructors.
"I hope I bring a sense of song arrangement and how to create and a passion, a passion for music," he said.  "I see that they have it, and that, in and of itself, is awesome."

While the goal is to write a song, the benefit goes way beyond that.

"It's been great for our students because our students like structure and this is a way for them to have a really structured program, but be creative and be individual," Urquhart said.

The compositions created by the students will eventually be performed on stage by Axis musicians.


Axis Music Academy

Aim High School

Wish Upon a Teen

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