May 2016 VSA Webinar: “Music & Math in Motion: A New Learning Approach to Counting in 4/4 Time and Tempo Concepts for Students on the Autism Spectrum”

In “Music & Math in Motion: A New Learning Approach to Counting in 4/4 Time and Tempo Concepts for Students on the Autism Spectrum”, viewers are introduced to a variety of systematic strategies on how to introduce the musical concepts of counting in 4/4 time and understanding tempos to young students on the autism spectrum. Not only do the viewers come away with strategies they can employ in their classes, but also a knowledge of the process of trial and error behind the development of these strategies. As a Jazz artist, Cecilia Smith has developed many music concepts for people with a variety of handicaps. After being introduced to children with severe autism spectrum disorder, she was presented with a new challenge on how to teach music concepts. Tapping into this population’s desire for routine and repetition, Cecilia saw how counting rhythms developed in a variety of repetitive motion games, could lead to meaningful music concept learning in children with autism. This engaging webinar introduces to students to three stages of music: counting rhythm, tempo through song, and repetition through tactile activities.

Click on the play button below to watch a free recording of the Webinar. (You will be prompted to enter your email address and contact information prior to viewing the Webinar.)

May 2016 Webinar Video Blog



Cecilia Smith is a jazz artist, composer, multimedia artist and teaching artist. As a teaching artist Cecilia has developed numerous music education programs that address individuals who are challenged with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and physical handicaps. Cecilia serves as a Master Teaching Artist in Marquis Studio’s Teaching Artist Training Institute (TATI), which trains arts educator to work with students with autism.

Maya Turner Singh serves as the Education Manager for Marquis Studios. Maya is also a founding member of Global Empowerment Theatre, a grass-roots Educational Theatre organization that brings English literacy and Gender equity through theatre workshops to under-privileged students in East Africa and India

Summary of Discussion Topics:

  • Background on Marquis Studios/VSA-NYC
    • Became VSA/NYC affiliate in 2012
    • Hosts the Teaching Artist Training Institute (TATI Program)
    • Annual Calendar created by NYC D75 Students
    • “A Year in Pictures” Gallery Event at Pratt Institute
  • Introducing Cecilia Smith
    • Internationally known Jazz Artist
    • Composer, arranger, multimedia artist
    • Currently developing multimedia piece entitled Decisive Moments
    • One of the leading vibraphonists in four-mallet technique
    • Graduate and former faculty member of Berklee College of Music
    • 25+ years experience as a teaching artist
    • 20 years of serving special populations, including both children and adults in therapeutic and school settings
  • Meeting the students at PS 37R and PS 94M
    • PS 37R – Staten Island, NY
    • PS 94M – Manhattan, NY
  • The search for a new method to teach counting and tempo
    • What didn’t work
    • The Time Machine
    • How do we measure time?
    • 60 bpm vs. 120 bpm
  • What was a challenge?
    • Different Point of Entry
  • What was a success?
    • Coordinated Partner Strategy
    • Rate of Speed and Tempo Changes
  • Conclusions

Links and Resources:

We want to know-what did you learn from this webinar?


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