Playing a musical instrument in a band or orchestra has many social, cognitive and artistic benefits for young people. Youth bands and orchestras teach cooperation, teamwork, and discipline; improve coordination, memory, maths and language skills and can become a place where lifelong friendships are formed.
Despite these many benefits, children with disability often miss out on the chance to learn a musical instrument due to a lack of access to adaptive musical instruments or other technologies or support. In recognition of this, Melbourne Youth Orchestras (MYO) have teamed up with researchers from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Music to develop an Adaptive Music Bridging Program to support students with disability to find instruments and teaching supports to meet their needs, so that they can gain the skills to join MYO’s mainstream ensembles.
What is the Adaptive Music Bridging Program?
Led by musicologist and disabled musician Dr Anthea Skinner, the Adaptive Music Bridging Program will work with students to find a musical instrument that meets their needs. This might be a standard instrument; a standard instrument with modified, 3D printed parts, stands or braces; or an adaptive instrument designed especially for people with disability. The program includes instruments that can be played hands-free, and even ones that are operated by Eye Gaze technology.
Once students receive their instruments, they will take part in weekly group lessons, learning to play their instruments, as well as music literacy, music history and appreciation, and performance etiquette. Lessons take place alongside MYO’s mainstream ensemble rehearsals, and graduates of the program will be supported to audition for and participate in these ensembles.
Who is eligible to take part?
Students aged between 8 and 14, who have struggled to access instrumental music education as a result of any disability or chronic illness are welcome to apply. Assessments and lessons are free, although participants will need to purchase their own instruments.