Main menu

Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum?

The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum was co-founded by the Autism Higher Education Foundation and The Boston Conservatory to provide ongoing music education and enrichment to young musicians with an ASD diagnosis.

The long-term goal of this groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind program is to develop the musical talents and abilities of the young participants such that the students may eventually have the musical skills to apply to a Conservatory or College Music Program at age 18.

How does the program work?

As many as 24 students, ages 9 and up, have the opportunity to take individualized weekly music lessons at The Boston Conservatory. Current instrument offerings are piano, violin, voice, clarinet, flute, alto saxophone and guitar. We hope to add more instruments in the future. Each student is paired with a Boston Conservatory Music Education graduate student for lessons of up to one hour in length to take place on Saturdays. (NOTE: Parents or caregivers of students must be on site for all lessons). 

Each student is further supported by a Consultative Team, including:

  1. Music Therapist
  2. Speech Pathologist
  3. Special Educator
  4. Professional musicians and/or music educators with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum.

The Consultative Team will support the student by troubleshooting issues that may arise in the learning process. In addition, generalization of the music lesson to the home environment will be effectuated on a weekly basis through skype video conferencing between the student (and/or caregiver) and the music instructor.

Does the program include performance opportunities?

Recitals and ensemble opportunities are included in each student’s programming as appropriate. 

Do other similar programs exist?

This is the first program of its kind in the nation.  

Who are the project leaders?

Rhoda Bernard, Ed.D., is the Director of The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum. The program was co-founded by Bernard, Chair of the Music Education Department at The Boston Conservatory, and Vanda Marie Khadem, Esq.,. special education attorney and founder of the Autism Higher Education Foundation.

Who is eligible for enrollment in the program?

Students ages 9 and up with a basic proficiency in voice, piano, violin, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet or guitar (i.e. can play without hand over hand instruction) are eligible for The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum.  

Students must have a documented Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Prospective students and their caregivers are interviewed to determine eligibility for the program. Parents or caregivers must be on premises while lesson is in session.

How do I enroll my son or daughter?

Fill out the intake questionnaire and the application

How many students will be accepted?

Up to 24 students will be accepted into the program in 2010.  

What is the age range/requirement of students?

Students must be ages 9 and up. 

How much does the program cost?

The program costs $1,000 per student per semester (which includes nine weekly lessons and nine mid-week generalization sessions). 

Are scholarships available?

In the future, scholarships will be available for families who qualify.  

What instruments will be taught?

Students receive private instrument lessons in piano, violin, voice, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet and guitar. Other instruments may be added as the program evolves. 

How were these instruments selected?

These are the instruments that the Music Education Department graduate students can best support for these private lessons. 

Do students need to have prior experience?

Yes, students must already possess basic proficiency (i.e. can play without hand over hand instruction) in their instrument.  

Where will lessons take place?

Lessons will take place at The Boston Conservatory, located in the Fenway/Back Bay area of Boston.  

When do lessons take place?

Lessons will be up to one hour in duration (exact time to be determined) on Saturdays and follow the Boston Conservatory’s academic calendar.  

Can parents observe the lessons?

Parents or caregivers of students must be on site for all lessons. 

Who is eligible for teaching roles in the program?

All teachers in the program must be current graduate students in The Boston Conservatory Music Education Department. 

How do I apply to become a teacher in the program?

Applications are available through The Boston Conservatory Music Education department. The application process includes a paper application and a personal interview. 

Do teachers receive credit or payment or both?

Boston Conservatory Music Education graduate students who are accepted as teachers in The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum will receive a per-lesson payment for their instruction.

How are the teachers trained and qualified to teach autistic children?

All students in the Boston Conservatory Music Education graduate program must have completed the first summer of study with grades of B- or better to gain entry into the program. Those accepted for teaching roles in The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum will also receive specialized training and support from a team of professional autism consultants (special educators). Training will take place in September, and ongoing support will be available on a weekly basis from the consultative team. 

How many Boston Conservatory music education students will be accepted into this teaching program?

The program will require about six teachers with the exact number determined by the number of students enrolled in the program, as well as the lesson schedule.  

What is the mission of The Boston Conservatory?

The mission of The Boston Conservatory is to educate exceptional performing artists for careers that enrich and transform the human experience by using the skills, creativity, and courage nourished in our vibrant, multidisciplinary community of musicians, dancers, and actors.

What is the mission of the Music Education Department at The Boston Conservatory?

The Music Education Department at The Boston Conservatory offers NASM-accredited and state-approved master's degree programs in music education: 

  • A Master of Music in Music Education (MMED) with Initial Licensure to teach music K-12: This program is designed for individuals who seek a Master's degree and licensure as a music educator.
  • A Master of Music in Music Education (MMED): This program is designed for individuals who already possess licensure as a music educator but seek a Master’s degree in music education.
  • A Graduate Diploma in Music Education (GDME) with Initial Licensure to teach music K-12: This program is designed for individuals who already possess a Master's degree in music or a related field but who seek licensure as a music educator.
  • 5-year B.M./MMED program: This program is designed for current Boston Conservatory undergraduates who wish to earn a Master's degree and licensure as a music educator. 
  • Students apply in the winter of their junior year of study, begin their Master's degree studies in the summer after their junior year, and typically earn both the B.M. and the MMED degrees in five years. 
Back to top