Chime Choir strikes a chord for kids with special needs

Chime Choir strikes a chord for kids with special needs

(ROCKWALL, TX — Aug. 17, 2016) Local board-certified music therapist Jenny Attardi knows the valuable impact music can have on the lives of special needs youth. However, she’s also aware that opportunities for those with special needs to play and learn the music they love within a social environment come few and far between.

This summer, Attardi and Rockwall School of Music formed a chime choir camp for a group of local special needs youth, bringing them that rare opportunity to make music with others in a social learning environment.

Attardi said the members of her chime choir love making music but often have difficulties finding chances to participate in music-oriented activities. Wanting to address this issue, she and Rockwall School of Music Owner and Director Russ Porter began discussing a way to make learning music more accessible to children and young adults with special needs.

“My main motivation for forming this choir is to bring special needs kids together in a group to make music,” Attardi said.

Offering remedial music lessons has always been a passion of Attardi, who has practiced music therapy for the past 23 years. She provides private music therapy to folks around Rockwall, usually giving sessions right inside her clients’ homes, and works with people of all ages teaching rhythm instruments, keyboard, and guitar.

The six total members making up the chime choir are all clients of Attardi, who also teaches adapted music lessons for people with special needs.

“My greatest joy is seeing them feel successful at something,” Attardi said.

The chime choir uses special instruments known as tone chimes, which are easy to play despite limitations. Porter owns seven tone chimes and offered their use for Attardi and her choir members. Chris Kirk – a friend of Attardi’s – also plays piano for the group.

What makes music such an effective therapeutic activity, Attardi said, is that it addresses three important life skills – motor, cognitive and social skills.

“Music has structure, so it helps with cognitive skills needed to help learn something new,” Attardi said. “It’s also motivating for individuals to want to try new skills. It gives opportunities for improving hand-eye coordination, and instruments can also be adapted for the person’s ability. On the social side of it, music can help people to have a sense of belonging and to learn patience.”

According to Attardi, because music therapy exists as one of the lesser-known career avenues available in the modern working world, she’s more than happy to discuss how to get started in the field. Anyone interested in pursuing music therapy as a career may contact Attardi via email at

Rockwall School of Music celebrates 20 years as the music school of choice for local musicians of all ages throughout the county. Founded in 1997 by a group of music instructors who wanted to share their love of music with the community, Rockwall School of Music harbors a remarkable staff of university-trained teachers dedicated to growing Rockwall’s music culture and inspiring generations of music students. Join them for a ribbon cutting and 20th anniversary celebration at 1:20 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1. For more information visit

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News editor. 

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