Occupational Octaves Piano™


Special-Needs-User-Friendly music education method

At nearly 91, my mother is finding life difficult now because she has lost a good deal of her vision. She has never even touched a piano before and has had no musical training. I was at a loss as to what I could interest her in . . . and then I thought of Occupational Octaves. Although she can’t read the letters, she can see the colours ... This video came at the end of her very first half hour lesson. She really enjoyed it. So did I.
— Sue Greenham, customer
If a student’s IEP goals include increasing concentration, strengthening fingers, expressing emotion and improving ocular movement... the piano is an incredibly rewarding place to achieve them.
— Lee Stockner, Author, Occupational Octaves Piano™ Series

What is Occupational Octaves Piano™?


Occupational Octaves Piano™ is an innovative piano instruction method that uses color coded keys and rings to assist learners, especially those with physical or learning disabilities, to successfully play the piano.  

The curriculum includes over 500 trackable goals and data points that instructors can target in environments such as public and private schools, therapy sessions, assisted living facilities, and more. These targets range from fine motor movement to concentration to self-expression and, with UnitusTI, progress is easy to visualize through reports and charts. Occupational Octaves Piano™ is also “Non-Music-Instructor-Friendly,” meaning instructors without a music background will have equal success in program implementation.


Occupational Octaves Piano™ in the media


I use the series in several ways. With some clients who are living with Autism Spectrum Disorder and who have motor and verbal processing issues, I’ve used it to improve processing skills, increase attending, improve ability to follow adult direction and build self-esteem. Some of my clients are functionally non-verbal. Depending on their skill level, I have them voice/name the letter as they play or write the lyrics to the simple familiar melodies out under the notes and increase the amount of information they have to attend to by having them accompany themselves and sing the words. It addresses multiple needs and can accommodate a wide variety of goals/ objectives from a therapeutic standpoint. I spent a lot of years creating my own color coded systems with the standard notation but these books have saved me so much time and it’s a consistent standardized tool. I can’t say enough good things about them. Thank you for this great resource!
— Abigail Peace MT-BC, LPC., In-Tune Mental Health LLC

Who is the program for?


While Occupational Octaves Piano™ was developed mainly from working with students diagnosed with Autism, the program is a highly intuitive, easy to use option for almost any type of organization, for people with and without special needs:

  • Occupational Therapists
  • Assisted Living Centers
  • Public & Private schools
  • Music Therapists
  • Piano Teachers
  • Rehabilitative Programs for Addiction, PTSD, TBI and more

Whether a patient is diagnosed with severe attentional deficiencies or an individual is simply suffering through a depressed phase and is finding difficulty with normal concentration, the brain can feel relief and growth through this Flow-based approach.


Why should you use it?

Since 2013, Occupational Octaves Piano™ has been used worldwide to empower learners with Autism and other special needs to independently play classical music at the piano. Taught mostly by Special Educators, Music Educators, and Music Therapists, the empowering factor behind this method is the “Special-Needs-User-Friendly New-Language-of-Music”.  In partnership with UnitusTI's cloud-based curriculum and data analysis application, Occupational Octaves Piano™ empowers educators from numerous backgrounds to use the piano to accomplish the optimal and often mandated goals for a particular student.


“Learning to play the piano has been a challenging and very rewarding experience for each of our sons. Lee creatively designed a visual system of learning the notes without reading music and using various symbols for the sharps, flats and pedal, etc. which the boys learned instantly. Their attention and sense of accomplishment is so exciting to witness, and the best of all….. the beautiful sound of music that radiates on our home on Monday nights! This is a wonderful opportunity for any child with autism who loves music like our sons. Lee ‘s training in ABA and experience working with kids with autism along with his musical talent are a wonderful combination. He is patient and dedicated to developing their skills and is a joy to have as their piano teacher!”
— Robyn Schneider, Great Neck, NY (Author of Silent Running: Our Family's Journey to the Finish Line with Autism)

How does it work?


Delivered through our innovative UnitusTI cloud software.  Access from any device, anywhere in the world.


The Occupational Octaves Piano™ program is delivered via subscription to the UnitusTI cloud.  With leading-edge data collection, staff management tools and program customization built right into UnitusTI, your business can focus on making progress, anytime, anywhere. 

  • See instant data on your clients' progress and make informed decisions on next steps
  • Provide reports and share relevant data securely with defined user-level permissions
  • Track client performance and use collaboration tools to keep your practice on track
  • Customizable data collection means you can track as much or as little as you need to


When using traditional music notation, each note has three main instructions to decode – (1) which note to play, (2) which finger to use, and (3) how long to hold for. For generations, this information has been embedded in a complex system of circles, flags, lines, dots, spaces, and confusing symbols. When using Occupational Octaves Piano™, the same instructions are embedded in the simplicity of colored letters in rhythmically designed boxes.  The “Special-Needs-User-Friendly” approach reduces the challenge of complex decoding down to simple matching. 



Reaching a state of Flow at the piano, one of the most beneficial activities a person may take part in, requires “Functional Expertise” in (1) translating musical instructions, (2) organizing the instructions, (3) properly playing the instructions, and then (4) repeating steps 1-3. Developing expertise in reading traditional music notation is incredibly difficult and may take many years before the process becomes rewarding.  With Occupational Octaves Piano, students who can match colors and letters reach expert levels of reading the language of music immediately.  Now, teachers, parents, therapists and others can help learners concentrate so their minds and bodies may be completely immersed in the rewards of musical development.

When we first sought out adaptable piano lessons, Tommy was presenting with severe delays in all domains of development. He was constantly seeking sensory input in all forms. At our very first lesson- was the first time that I saw my child sitting upright, following directions and expressing emotional satisfaction over the music he was creating. The program was designed for all learning styles. As a physical therapist, I could appreciate the physical and cognitive benefits that Tommy was and is experiencing: higher level thinking, improved breathing and postural control, shoulder and pelvic stability, and development of his fine motor skills. As a mother, I was able to witness my child’s creativity, self esteem and joy.
— Mother of a student of Occupational Octaves Piano student

Find out more...

Have questions?  Get more information from one of our experts or schedule a free demo right away.



Creator of the Occupational Octaves Piano™ program

Lee Stockner

Lee Stockner, Occupational Octaves Piano™ Program Author

Lee Stockner is an inventor, music educator, special educator, business owner, program creator, instructor, trainer, author, publisher and innovator.  Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, himself, Lee developed methods to successfully overcome the challenge of a learning disorder. When approached to work with a student with Autism at the piano, that challenge was fully ignited and Lee began a career at a school for students with severe Autism.  Lee's students, many with disabilities so severe that there were unable to learn traditional music notation, empowered him to refine and grow his methods, leading him to create an alternative, "Special-Needs-User-Friendly" language of music.

In 2012, Lee formalized a curriculum based on this new language and published Occupational Octaves Piano through his company, Music Lee Inclined Guy, Inc.

In 2017, Lee spoke on a panel of experts at the Hofstra University Northwell School of Medicine during an event in which low functioning students with Autism performed classical pieces such as Fur Elise and The Blue Danube. In 2016, Lee held a Special Needs Recital at a Steinway piano gallery.  See this and other videos on the Occupational Octaves YouTube page