I first became involved with people who have learning disabilities in August 2003 when I joined the training programme at a company called Music Unlimited, who deliver music workshops for children and adults with disabilities in north-west England. Despite previously being involved in (and in some cases planning and leading) several workshops for children and adults, I had little experience in working with people who have special needs and wanted to develop skills in this area. The training consisted largely of observing other staff delivering workshops which, although it proved useful, left me feeling frustrated by the lack of available literature to support what I had seen and which I could use to expand my expertise. While much has been written about music therapy, it has tended to be from a scientific, rather than musical, point of view and thus of limited practical use to a musician. Consequently, I set out to reflect on my experience and gather practical information on how other musicians have approached teaching an instrument or singing to children with learning disabilities (including any technology used to facilitate this), and to evaluate the effectiveness of the methods used.
The musical reactions of individuals with Down’s syndrome have provided the inspiration and foundation for numerous research studies during the twentieth century, although definitive conclusions on the topic have yet to be reached. Much of the existing research is outdated, referring to a society in a time gone by, when unique and beautiful individuals were sadly segregated from their families and communities and herded together in institutions around the country. This study aims to draw information from past research but also to begin original work in a modern day setting, acknowledging the current situations of people with Down’s syndrome.
'Teaching Tom' is a chapter from the book: Ways into Music: Making Every Child's Music Matter. It was written by Melody's founder, Rosie Cross, and the book was first published in 2007 by The National Association of Music Educators (edited by Helen Coll and John Finney). Please click the button below to read the chapter.
This essay aims to investigate rhythm, as a steady and regular occurrence of impulse or beat, and the cognitive, neurological and physical processes a musician with a learning disability uses in order to convert rhythmical perception into rhythmical response. It aims to broadly investigate the impact of rhythmical concepts and methods of perception and response for individuals with learning disabilities, and investigate the application of these concepts in practice.