OK Music School provides focused teaching for children and young people aged 5-25 with additional needs, to enable them to discover their innate abilities and develop their musical talent. At weekly classes, our qualified music therapists use specialised methods to enable pupils to gradually learn to play an instrument or sing, and perform in public, with some studying for music exams. OK Music School takes place at the Twickenham United Reformed Church and Hanworth Methodist Church. Many thanks also to Newland House School who provide music rooms free of charge on Saturdays.
76 pupils with special educational needs or disabilities currently attend OK Music School. We hold 2 public concerts per year where pupils perform with joy and confidence and they also perform at other community events helping to encourage inclusivity and diversity. Our Christmas 2022 concert in St Mary’s Church, Twickenham, and our summer concert 2023 at St Paul’s School, Barnes were happy occasions, attended by the Mayor of Richmond upon Thames, where pupils showcased their talent, joy and pride. The OK Music School Band closed the concert with a rousing performance of Aquarela do Brazil.
“OK Music School encourages me to perform in front of a large audience, which helps boost my confidence.”
- Preparatory Stage
Individual music therapy sessions, learning to listen, take turns and improvise on percussion instruments, to help develop creativity, communication skills and concentration.
- Music School Stage 1
Weekly individual lessons where pupils try instruments such as percussion, keyboard, violin, flute, xylophone, guitar or voice. A picture-exchange system is used to help pupils learn the first elements of music such as dynamics, pitch, tempo and to find notes on a keyboard.
- Stage 2
Individual or small groups lessons where pupils concentrate on their instrument of choice, learn to read musical notation, and build the confidence to perform in our public concerts.
- Stage 3
Some pupils are prepared for Royal School of Music exams and 15 pupils have passed music exams.
Our feedback shows the pupils attending OK Music School are being helped to:
- Have improved communication skills
- Have improved social skills and make friends
- Gain confidence and pride
- Improve concentration and focus.
- Express themselves
- Have improved emotional well-being
- Feel the joy of performing with others
- Feel part of the community
- Fulfill their potential – some will have the possibility to have a career in music
The IMPROVISATION RHYTHM PERFORMANCE (IRP) technique used at Music School was developed by our Music Director, Edison Carolino, to give pupils with communication difficulties the confidence to learn to play an instrument.
Edison has run training workshops in OKMT IRP technique for therapists, parents and music teachers working with children and adults with additional needs, designed to help them to teach their pupils to learn how to play musical instruments. He produced the IRP Stage 1 booklet, which provides the teaching materials demonstrated during the training.
K started receiving music therapy with OKMT at 3 years old. She has a genetic condition called Williams Syndrome which causes global developmental delay. When we first met her she was barely able to speak due to a combination of physical and developmental reasons. We helped her learn to speak by using the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, as one of a number of therapeutic techniques. When she was 5 K joined OK Music School and has gained a lot of confidence as a result and is unstoppably enthusiastic in her singing. She loves performing in our concerts and recently passed her Grade 4 Singing exam.
L has ASD and a severe learning disability. She is mostly non-verbal. A few years ago she was a bit lost in the wilderness but then she came to OK Music School, where she started to learn the piano. From just playing random notes and improvising, she is now able to play with 2 hands, is progressing in reading music and performs in our public concerts. L has progressed in verbal communication, trying hard to pronounce the numbers 1 2 3 4 and she shows good understanding of rhythm. Music is very uplifting for L and gives her structure and a great deal of pleasure. Her parents said, “The therapist has taught our autistic child to read music, play in public concerts, count herself in and to be very proud of her achievements. We can ask for no more”
S is learning to play piano at OK Music School. He has a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder, which affects his concentration. The routine of lessons is important for S and he has shown a developing ability to listen and take instructions. His mother told us:
“From the moment S joined OK Music School he felt welcomed and comfortable. His piano lessons have become part of his life. His confidence has grown and music is a way to relax and learn how to express his feelings. The lessons improve his motor skills, speech and concentration too. At the summer concert, he played and sang “Bohemian Rhapsody” with huge confidence and got a great reception from the audience. He showed how deeply music is in his heart and how much it means to him”