The Mary Pappert School of Music and the City Music Center are co-hosting a free musical series designed to connect families and individuals in the autism community through their shared love and enjoyment of music.

Presented in partnership with Band Together Pittsburgh and Achieving True Self, Full Spectrum is underwritten by The Pittsburgh Foundation. The series provides events and activities every Saturday in April from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the music school that feature guest musicians and experts on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

In addition, the series integrates informative presentations and performances—some led by artists who are themselves on the spectrum—with music-making activities like drum circles, an instrument “petting zoo” as well as musical games and a recording studio session with a live rock band that participants can attend.

Tom Carsecka, director of admissions and community programs in the music school, found the inspiration to develop the series close to home. His son Quinton, 7, was diagnosed with ASD in 2020. Because Quinton is non-verbal, Carsecka said he connects with his son through physical activity like hiking and being in nature, but also through music.

“He likes to dance, and he’ll put headphones on and sit in my studio and watch the lights move to the sound,” said Carsecka, who is also a musician. “There’s a sensory aspect of music making that he really enjoys. It’s a way that we can connect and it’s something that’s important to me.”

This and plugging into the community of parents of children with autism motivated Carsecka to develop the Full Spectrum series. 

“The autism parenting community—so many parents are heartbroken or feel they aren’t doing enough. The list of psychological pressures just goes on and on” Carsecka explained. “I put together the idea of a support hub in which parents can come together and make multiple connections all in one place and find strength in meeting others who live with ASD.”

Full Spectrum includes performing musicians who are on the Autism Spectrum and face adverse challenges. 

“These performers are sharing their lived experiences in the autism community, and we have guest presenters and experts who talk about how they—in their professions—implement ways to be more inclusive with this population,” Carsecka added.

The response and support from music school faculty and students for Full Spectrum has been very positive, according to Carsecka.

“Our students practically jumped out of their seats to be involved in this, and we’ve gotten lots of faculty asking how they could be involved,” Carsecka said. “I’m so pleased with the response we’ve gotten.”

For more information and to register in advance to attend visit the Full Spectrum website.

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DU Times


April 10, 2024