MANHATTAN - Brendan Yu was playing piano even before developing the skills to speak.
"He started at the age of 5, that’s when he was diagnosed with autism." David Yu, father
His teacher, Lee Stockner, founded the Occupational Octaves method. It’s a simple matching system using colors and letters.
"The colored rings that my students use make it so every note they encounter they know exactly which finger belongs on which piano key," he said.
Since 2012, students from around the world have been reading and succeeding at the piano despite their different abilities. For Brendan, playing piano gave him a purpose.
"He’s a different person," his dad said.
"He’s a different person. He’s focused, he can play everything." David Yu
He along with four others, will show off their skills on stage during a concert at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. They’ll perform the works of classical composers including Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.
Shane Patel is also city-bound. The method has made it possible for him to play.
Lee is able to understand his students and their needs after overcoming his own struggles with ADD.
"The thing that kept me afloat was being able to sit down at the piano and play," he said.
"The idea of transferring it to students whom may struggling, to me it’s worth it." Lee Stockner
Lee says he’s not nervous about his students practicing because they’ve been so well-prepared for years.
The show starts at 7:00 p.m. on November 21, and they’re already overcoming the odds just by being there.