Unusual circumstances leads to two musicians with autism coming together and performing

LAKE WORTH, Fla - They are beside each other, one playing the piano and the other on the violin.

They are an unlikely duet, brought together by music, their teachers and autism.

"It's very unusual and it's very exciting to put them together see how far they've come," says piano instructor Lori White.

Brian Chen, 19, has been playing the piano for 10 years. Megan Paese, 24, has been playing the violin for 12 years.

Five years ago White took on Brian as a student. At about the same time, her husband, violin instructor Lehins Aragon started instructing Megan.

With both students on the autism spectrum, their teachers decided to bring them  together.

"I remember the first time they played together and I was amazed that they were always together," said White.  "Sometimes that's very challenging for musicians to be able to do that, but for Brian and Megan it just seems natural to them."

But the harmony didn't always come easily.

"From a teaching standpoint, sometimes we're faced with some challenges when we're in the lesson scenario," she said.

Communicating isn't natural for those with autism, and it can be hard when it comes to matching up music. Brian says it can get complicated.

"We have to look at each other for cues and communicate when to start and when to end," he said.

But they've been able to overcome that obstacle.

"Actually it was fun, at least we had to communicate with each other. It's fun, but it takes a lot of time it takes a lot of practice," said Paese

Working together and with their teachers, the musicians' skills have improved. Brian will be starting at Palm Beach State College in the fall, and Megan will be finishing at Lynn University.

"I've really been fortunate to see them grow as musicians together," said White.

 


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