A Music Teacher Who Changes Lives

On the surface, the PS 177 Technology Band looks like a typical high school orchestra. But there are two big differences. First, while they use traditional instruments, they also play iPads. And all of the band members have disabilities. Some have autism spectrum disorders….

Tobi Lakes, a tall, wire-thin teen with thick glasses sits at an electric piano. He taught himself to play.

“I’m very good. I like the piano. I like the keyboard. Keyboard is the best. Number one!” Tobi says with a wide smile. On his school-issued tablet computer, using a music app called Thumb Jam, Tobi also loves his iPad “guitar.”

As rehearsal heats up Tobi takes the lead on rock guitarist Jeff Beck’s version of Puccini’s “Nesun Dorma.” Tobi Lakes, iPad guitar shredder, is learning disabled. He’s autistic. And he’s also blind in one eye.

Adam Goldberg, the creator of the PS 177 band, gets the music started.

“The first note of the second line please,” he tells them. “In blue. There ya go. That’s the pizzicato.”

The 53 year old teacher is a classically trained pianist with a degree from the Manhattan School of Music. About 20 years ago he began substitute-teaching here while playing freelance jazz and rock gigs. He was soon offered a job at PS 177, and he’s been at the school ever since.

Listen to or read the complete story:

Wavy Gravy: Saint Misbehavin’

May 18, 2013– “I was asked, in the mid-seventies, to go the Children’s Hospital in Oakland and cheer up kids. On the way out the door of my house, someone handed me a red, rubber nose. I discovered it enabled me to get out of myself and be entertaining to the kids. After awhile, I began to paint my face up as a clown. I worked with kids almost every day for about seven years….”
Wavy Gravy
Wavy Gravy

Link to the full story at Daily Good.