When Music Maker Workshops of Ahwatukee (MMW) opens on Monday mornings, Cheston Brown runs to his classroom for a piano lesson with Miss Cindy, which brings great happiness to his mother, Hope Dob - bins-Brown.
Cheston had taken lessons elsewhere but had discontinued because he wasn’t enjoying the experience. Soon after that, Hope noticed her son playing notes on electronic devices, which made her realize he liked music but needed to learn in a nontraditional way.
Hope researched and asked questions about music studios and piano teachers until she finally found MMW, which she describes as an amazing place. She says, “Just to walk in gives [her] peace.”
Every quiet Monday morning, when there are no other lessons or classes, she waits in the cozy and relaxing lobby area while Cheston has his lesson. This time was purposely chosen for Cheston who has autism. Cheston’s 30-minute experience at MMW is more than just a music lesson; it is actually part of Cheston’s home schooling.
Music Maker Workshops incorporates music Cheston would do in school as his music class. During this time, Hope explains, “Miss Cindy utilizes a lot of fun teaching tools and allows Cheston to be a kid, but it’s still a lesson.” It is also therapy for him, something that helps him engage, calm, and communicate. Cheston sits with Miss Cindy, and he hears her play, and then he plays after she does. He learns the music not by reading notes, but by hearing them, which is not a traditional way of learning, but it’s Cheston’s path for getting to the music.
And the most important thing to Hope in all this is that “it makes him so happy.” Hope has been able to provide her son with music lessons through the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA), which is an account administered by The Arizona Depart - ment of Education that is funded by state tax dollars to provide educational options for qualified Arizona students.
For more on ESA, go to azed.gov/esa/. For more on MMW, go to mmwaz.com. Thank you to MMW for being innovative and always adapting to meet the needs of their students, even teaching virtual lessons during times of social distancing, as is the case this spring of 2020.