When Adapted & Virtual Learning Collide

Color-coded digital piano to facilitate learning with adapted notation.

Sarah Fard is an educational consultant at Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs, and a high school music teacher at Medford Public Schools. She uses adapted methods to make music accessible to all of her students, however they learn best. At the start of the pandemic when schools shut down in March 2020 and teachers were urgently sorting out virtual curriculum, Sarah sent out a call for help for her music students. Her students were unable to practice on the instruments she adapted at school once they were sent home. She needed a virtual solution for the piano keyboards her students used with the sheet music she adapted for their learning style.

Her requirements were:

  • It had to be virtual so students could access it from home.
  • It had to be color-coded with specific colors to match her adapted sheet music. The colors were chosen specifically to be accessible to the visual needs of her students.
  • It had to happen quickly!

We found off-the-shelf, open source code on GitHub (shout out to Joe Liang and Keith Horwood), so we didn’t have to code it from scratch. All we had to do was adapt the keyboard to Sarah’s virtual classroom and add on her specific color requirements.

Sarah’s call for help went out March 22, 2020 and less than two weeks later we had a working, color-coded virtual piano live for her students!

It was thrilling to be a part of this project, and the chance to make the pandemic just slightly less crappy for this group of students.

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