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Programs for Students on the Autism Spectrum

The Boston Conservatory is unique among performing arts colleges for its dedication to providing arts experiences for individuals with special needs. It was the first performing arts college to offer private music lesson to individuals on the autism spectrum (2007) and the first school in Boston to present autism-friendly performances (2013). It was also the first Conservatory in the nation to launch graduate training programs specifically in music education and autism (2015).

Through its Programs for Students on the Autism Spectrum, The Boston Conservatory is able to offer a number of educational programs and opportunities for individuals of all ages with autism spectrum disorders. These programs, which range from private music lessons to Autism-Friendly Performances of the school's mainstage productions, are designed to provide a safe, welcoming environment in which participants can nurture a life-long involvement in the arts—as creators or audience members. All program instructors receive rigorous training and extensive support from a professional consultation team in order to work effectively with individuals on the autism spectrum.

In 2015, The Boston Conservatory earned an UP Organization designation by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for its work “helping students on the autism spectrum develop their creativity and fulfill their potential as artists and learners.” UP organizations are recognized for making a significant commitment to learn about, take action and embrace inclusivity as a core organizational value. 

Music Programs

Private Music Lessons (ages 9-adult)

The first-of-its-kind conservatory program pairs students on the autism spectrum with Boston Conservatory music education graduate students and alumni for weekly lessons. Learn more about Private Music Lessons here.

Music Class for Young Children (ages 3-8) 

This "mommy and me"-style program is taught by graduate students and alumni of The Boston Conservatory's music education program and allows parents to introduce young children on the autism spectrum to music. Learn more about Music Class for Young Children here.

Inner Harmony Chorus (all ages)

A vocal ensemble for individuals on the autism spectrum and their family and friends that runs for 10 weeks and is conducted by a team of graduate students from The Boston Conservatory's music education program. Learn more about Inner Harmony Chorus here.

Dance Programs

Step By Step! Dance Class (ages 8-12)

Step by Step! is a new dance program for children on the autism spectrum. Children ranging in age from 8 to 12 will learn the basics of dance while incorporating social skills, and the use of imagination and personal expression. The program is designed to accommodate 10 children per session, allowing for more individualized attention and focus. Children will dance to live music in a relaxed, fun environment. Learn how to register for the fall and spring sessions. 

Theater Programs

Autism-Friendly Performances (all ages)

Each year, the Conservatory Connections program hosts an Autism-Friendly Performance (AFP) of one of its mainstage shows. These performances are open to anyone in the public on the autism spectrum and their families. The 2016 Autism-Friendly Performance is the Conservatory's spring dance concert, LIMITLESS. Learn more about LIMITLESS and get tickets here

Resources for Teachers and Professionals

Annual Conference for Teaching Music to Students on the Autism Spectrum

An innovative resource for public and private school music educators, the two-day event addresses important topics, such as:

  • Current Research in Autism
  • Strategies for Teaching Music to Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
  • How Autistic People Learn and Perceive Music
  • Working Effectively with Students on the Autism Spectrum and their Families

Register today or learn more about the Annual Conference Teaching Music to Students on the Austim Spectrum here.

Graduate Training Programs Offered in Music and Autism

The Boston Conservatory offers two first-of-their-kind training programs for those interested in specializing in teaching music to students on the autism spectrum:

Master of Music in Music Education—Autism Concentration
Graduate Certificate in Music and Autism


For more information on music programs and professional resources, contact:

Rhoda Bernard, Ed.D.
Director of Professional Education and Enrichment
Director of The Boston Conservatory Autism Spectrum Programs
(617) 912-9104

For more information on dance programs and theater programs, contact:

Kim Haack
Director of External Relations
(617) 912-9150

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