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Occupational Octaves presents a recital by special needs kids

Andrew Kamel, 10, will play a classical Bach

Andrew Kamel, 10, will play a classical Bach piece called "Solfeggietto" in his first piano recital on Sunday, June 26, at Steinway & Sons in Melville. Credit: Kamel family

Mirielle Kamel of Massapequa grew up playing piano and wanted her children to learn as well. But after her older child, Andrew, was diagnosed with autism, she wondered whether he could ever achieve that dream.

“We put it on the back burner as we worked on other things associated with his autism,” she says. But about three years ago, Andrew, now 10, started taking lessons with Lee Stockner, who has developed a teaching method using colors that can help even low-functioning, nonverbal kids and young adults with special needs learn to play music.

And on Sunday, Andrew will play a classical Bach piece called “Solfeggietto” in his first piano recital. The performance features about a dozen special needs piano students ages 5 to 25 who use the Occupational Octaves method. “It’s coming up,” Andrew says. “I’m excited to play the music.”

Because of the kids’ needs, the concert is for family members only, taking place at Steinway Piano Gallery in Melville, but it can be viewed live on Occupational Octaves Facebook page. The students’ levels vary; some will play simple songs such as “The Wheels on the Bus,” Stockner says.

Occupational Octaves uses colored rings that students wear on their fingers that correspond to keys on the piano to teach students, instead of starting them reading notes from traditional sheet music. Stockner has put out eight books that follow the method.

“I think what Lee is doing is great,” Kamel says. “It’s an opportunity for all these children to get on stage.”

WHAT Special Needs Piano Recital

WHEN | WHERE 12:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26, at Steinway & Sons, 505 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville

INFO 516-457-1111;

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