(This is Part 2 of a two-part report. Read the full piece here).
On the surface, the PS 177 Technology Band looks like a typical high school orchestra. But there are two big differences. First, while they use traditional instruments, they also play iPads. And all of the band members have disabilities. Some have autism spectrum disorders.
“I’m Tobi Lakes, I’m 15 years old. I’m in ninth grade. I’m four grades away from college.”
Morning sunlight pushes through large, old windows into the school’s well-worn and empty-seated auditorium. On the stage, iPads on small stands sit in a semicircle. It’s rehearsal time. The students mingle and chat before practice starts. Tobi Lakes, a tall, wire-thin teen with thick glasses sits at an electric piano. He taught himself to play.
“I’m very good. I like the piano. I like the keyboard. Keyboard is the best. Number one!” Tobi says with a wide smile. On his school-issued tablet computer, using a music app called Thumb Jam, Tobi also loves his iPad “guitar.”