The Simply Music Special Needs Gateway Program in Charlotte, North Carolina

(704) 769-3345


It’s estimated that 1 out of every 68 children in the United States has a developmental disability. Of the many challenges facing families with a special needs child, the most difficult is perhaps the inability of parents to communicate with their children, and subsequently connect.

Learning music has been proven to have a profound impact with children on the Autism Spectrum and other developmental delays. Music programs have been shown to enhance speech and language, increase self-confidence and self-expression, and can help develop better social interaction and lessen anxiety that comes from peer interaction. However, traditional music learning programs have long been inaccessible to many children with special needs. And that’s where we want to help.


Before we take you into the program we first want you to see The Story of Mary & Jewels.

Jewels Harrison is a 13 year-old boy diagnosed with severe autism. Growing up, Jewels and his mother, Mary, faced the many challenges of being able to communicate with each other, and subsequently, connect. After being diagnosed at age 3, Mary enrolled him in music therapy sessions with Karen Nisenson, founder and director of Art for Healing, to address his difficulties with speech and language and his inability to use his hands; with the hopes of improving his ability to communicate.

At age 9, Karen started formally teaching music to Jewels. The initial goal was to have him sit still and get his fingers to work, rather than the actual learning process. Jewels’ fine motor skills improved quickly and he began improvising, and learning to play both classical and popular songs with ease.

At age 11, Jewels’ mother, Mary, met Jeannie Whiting, a local Simply Music teacher. Karen instantly loved the way the Simply Music Method worked, and how it complimented her own methodology. Everyone saw the potential to expand Jewels’ repertoire and improve his skill set using the Simply Music Piano program… and so the Simply Music connection began. 

Jewels and his family have seen the profound impact the Gateway program can have on a child with special needs and serves as a great source of inspiration to anyone trying to overcome these difficulties with learning, communication or self expression. 

Our unique, adaptive piano program is designed specifically for any child with special needs who thinks differently and needs to learn in a different style. This program simplifies the process of learning by breaking down the steps into tiny increments that are easy, fun and playing-based. This method works because it transforms the issues that prevent a child with special needs from learning in a conventional way.

The impact on students and their families is profound. Children with special needs, through acquiring musical self-expression, have a new means communicating and revealing their individual personalities and talents. The Simply Music Gateway programs offers a new opportunity for socialization and further inclusion in their school and greater community.


We would be more than happy to speak with you and enroll your special needs child in our school and curriculum today!  Contact us to find out more details and get started.