002: How to Have Conversations With Parents of Neurodiverse Students with Tara Mock

Welcome to our very first insightful episode of the year, where we dive into the fascinating world of teaching and learning in diverse educational settings. In this episode, we are joined by Tara Mock, a seasoned piano teacher with 28 years of experience and a passion for teaching neurodiverse students. Tara’s journey into this specialized field was influenced by her own experiences as a homeschooling parent to two teenagers with neurodiverse diagnoses. Join us as Tara shares her wealth of knowledge and expertise, touching on topics ranging from creating a supportive learning environment to building trust with parents and effectively teaching neurodiverse students. With her unique insights and practical advice, Tara offers invaluable guidance for both parents and educators alike. Tune in as we explore the intersection of music education and neurodiversity with Tara Mock!

  • Tara shared a brief overview of her studio and her experience, specializing in teaching neurodiverse students.
  • She emphasizes creating a joyful and supportive environment for students.
  • How Tara started teaching this way by accident, influenced by her son’s Asperger’s diagnosis.
  • The value of observing students’ behaviors, routines, expectations, communication, and frustrations to identify potential learning differences.
  • She highlights the significance of building trust with parents and creating a positive, supportive relationship.
  • Tara shares an ideal response from a parent about their child’s quirks and offers insights into the parent’s perspective.
  • The importance of focusing on the strengths & interests of neurodiverse students.
  • Advice for teaching squirrely kids, suggesting tools like quiet fidgets, quick activity switches, and off-bench activities.
  • Tips for average piano teachers interested in effective teaching for neurodiverse students.
  • Tara’s recommendation for specialists like Dr. Elizabeth Davis and Dr. Scott Price for reliable information.

Guest Links Mentioned

Today’s Guest

Tara Mock has been teaching for 28 years and owns an independent piano studio in Raleigh, North Carolina. She earned a Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy in 2001 from the University of South Carolina focusing on improvisation for the beginner piano student. After homeschooling her own children with neurodivergent diagnoses for over 14 years, she is focusing on teaching piano to students who learn and experience the world differently as well. She currently serves as the 2nd Vice President of Membership in the Raleigh Piano Teachers Association, and previously served in various roles in the Jacksonville Music Teachers Association in Jacksonville, Florida. Her family includes her genius husband, two amazing and gifted children (one in college and the other finishing high school), two of the best dogs ever, a goofy horse, and many fish.

About Rachel Ehring

Dr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano teaching gadgets. She holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and a MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as Director at St. John’s Conservatory of the Arts in Orange County, CA. Previously, she held positions at Concordia University Irvine and Henderson State University. Rachel is passionate about empowering music teachers to create engaging and exciting lessons for students of all ages. When she isn’t playing the piano, you might find Rachel reading books with her son or walking her beagle Frieda.


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