Drummer Teaches Kids with Autism Magic of Music

Mike Lawson • News • February 29, 2016

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Speak Through the Arts Local musician Jay DiBella sings and plays drums for his blues band.

It’s his passion. But he has another passion, too.

DiBella is using his musical talents to help children with autism express themselves through music in the Speak Through the Arts program.

When DiBella heard about the Speak Through the Arts program on The Parker Foundation for Autism and Child Development’s Facebook page, he reached out to Melissa Parker, the nonprofit’s co-founder, and suggested holding a drum clinic.

They collaborated and the first drum clinic was held this past December at the Wickham Park Community Center in Melbourne. That day, DiBella helped 15 children ages 5-12 assemble a “cajon,” a Peruvian drum that is sat on while played. He also taught them percussion basics using drum pads provided by the nonprofit, and specially designed rhythm sticks that were donated by Janine Chimera, a local music therapist.

“This is about these kids having their eyes opened to music and understanding that they can make sounds that make sense by beating on a plywood box,” DiBella said.

The children learned to play “Little Drummer Boy” on their practice pads while DiBella played the guitar and sang with them. The clinic wrapped with DiBella breaking in the new “cajon” during individual jam sessions with each child.

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