R is 11 and has physical and neurological difficulties, is gastrostomy fed and has a severe learning disability. She found the world a scary place and did not tolerate most noises apart from music, and could sing before she started to speak aged 5. R was very insecure and wanted to join in school Christmas plays but was scared by the microphone.
At Music School R was given the opportunity to open up and show her true potential and was soon singing beautifully using a microphone. She has performed many times now both solo and with a choir which has really brought out her confidence and has been vital in building her self-esteem which was previously very low. She now even comments that she is ‘very proud’ of herself. R needed these specialist teaching methods that aren’t available in mainstream teaching to be able to learn due to her lack of concentration skills. She now has the opportunity to express herself through music and singing. Music School gives R an outlet for her frustrations, lack of social understanding and processing of all that she has been through so far in her short life.
C has autism and was withdrawn and non-verbal. He attended music therapy for many years and as his love for music developed, his speech improved and he asked to learn the flute. C joined Music School in 2012, and now aged 22, has passed his grade 5 flute and grade 4 saxophone ABRSM exams and interacts happily with people and loves to perform in public including with the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra.
K is 7 and has global developmental delay with sight and hearing difficulties, speech and language delay and is tactile defensive. This is an extract from her mother’s account of K’s experience at Music School:
“I believe that the therapist’s enthusiasm, his experience and patience have paid off and he has brought out K’s true musical potential. Music School has developed her confidence both with the musical instruments and also with interacting with other children and learning how to take turns. Now she has the confidence to express herself and the ability to listen and then copy. Her hand-eye coordination has also massively improved. K focuses and concentrates on the instructions being given to her. The praise she receives from the therapist makes her face light up with excitement. Music School has greatly enhanced K’s quality of life and that of her parents too! It is so rewarding to see her do well in something after receiving such a gloomy prognosis at birth.”
G is 19 and autistic. He began music therapy at OKMT over ten years ago, at a time when he was feeling isolated, unhappy, ‘living in his own world’ and uncomfortable with any verbal or music communication. Gradually, he started to experiment with musical sounds and slowly allowed the therapist to join him in making music and to make eye contact – this sense of security gave G self-confidence. He began to show a natural talent for music with an ability to create melodies and rhythms and play familiar tunes.
Since joining Music School in 2012, G has gone on to learn to read music, and performs confidently on the keyboard at our public concerts. Music enabled G to find his own voice of expression, and start to enjoy life, and understand relationships through interactions, listening to another person, receiving information and building on it together. For the first time in his life, he has formed a strong bond with his brother, and they often like to ‘jam’ together.
L is 9 and has autism. Her parents tried mainstream piano lessons for her without success. She joined Music School in February 2014. Her mother reports:
“L has been learning piano with Edison for just over a year. We had no particular aspirations for her, other than allowing her to have fun. Within a year, she has performed in two public concerts and recently has begun to learn to read and play from musical notation. She has developed a great relationship with Edison and, to my amazement, I heard her repeatedly counting “one, two, three, four” when playing the piano with him. She thoroughly enjoys her lessons and has progressed far faster than I was expecting. L is mostly pre-verbal and Edison is now beginning to encourage her to make sounds, in addition to encouraging her musical talent. She comes out of her lessons both happy and fulfilled.”