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.
55 pupils with 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. Over 40 pupils took part in our concerts in 2018 improvising with the therapist, performing solo or in groups, and sharing their love of music with the audience.
“I love music because it gives me confidence and it takes me away from the pressures of real life. I make more friends here than anywhere else.”
- 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. 11 pupils have passed music exams with 6 passing Grade 1 Piano or Singing in 2018.
Our feedback shows the pupils attending OK Music School are being helped to:
- Improve communication skills
- Improve 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 started running training workshops in Stage 1 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 has also produced the IRP Stage 1 booklet, which provides the teaching materials demonstrated during the training.
G is in his early twenties and has autism. He started music therapy with OKMT over 12 years ago. At the time, he was isolated and living ‘in his own world. Gradually G started to experiment with musical sounds along with the therapist and to make eye contact which gave him confidence. He showed a natural talent for music with an ability to play familiar tunes.
He joined OK Music School in 2012, and is now learning to read music, and has performed confidently and joyously on the keyboard at all our public concerts. Music gave G a voice of expression and helped him form a bond with his brother, as they often ‘jam’ together. Music has awoken his interest in other arts and he has started painting. His mother said, “There is more to him than the autism. He has a soul and that soul is very beautiful.”
K is 9 years old and started receiving music therapy 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 1 Singing exam.
K is globally developmentally delayed having been born with ventriculomegaly and hydrocephalus, with limited vision and moderate hearing loss. She started music therapy when she was 1, and after one year finally struck a note on the keyboard. After 3 years, K joined Music School, and now aged 8, is learning to find notes on the keyboard, playing with 2 hands and has performed at several of our concerts. Her mother said:
“She is a much more confident child – it is amazing! Music School has greatly enhanced her quality of life. It is so rewarding to see her do well in something after receiving such a gloomy prognosis at birth.”
A is 5 and has Down’s syndrome. Music lessons have given her a sense of joy and happiness. She really enjoys singing and dancing – she is able to learn the words and sing them clearly – and now is building her confidence on the piano and performed a piece at the 2018 Christmas concert. She also sang accompanied by her music therapist and teacher, Lydia