Thirty children on the autism spectrum and their families gathered at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) “Cube” on December 1st, 2018 to participate in the Duke Center for Autism’s inaugural “Music 2 the Max” event. The event was planned by Elie Abdelnour, Samantha Bowen, Charlotte Stoute, Elizabeth Sturdivant, and Alexandra Valladares from the Center; and William Dawson, Musician In Residence and Performing Arts Coordinator for Arts & Health at Duke. Over 20 staff and faculty from the Center volunteered at the event.
Participants took part in three unique workshop stations that gave them the opportunity to try out different ways of making music. William Dawson led the ukulele station where kids played open-tuned ukuleles and sang songs together. Max Puhala and Berk Ozturk from Chapel-Hill based organization Push Play Sing guided kids in playing electronic music on keyboards, drum machines, and other electronic devices. At the instrument making station, participants decorated their own cardboard and rubber band instruments, and with help from experienced musician Elie Abdelnour, they were able to play them through an amplifier with special sound effects. At the end of the event, all the participants and their families participated in a special podcast that can be heard here.