Who We Are
Music of Life is a small, but well-established charity that provides high quality musical education and performance opportunities to children and young people with disabilities and special needs. It is currently in an active growth phase following a few busy years of developing and running projects that became a standard of excellence in the field.
Music of Life exists to build and strengthen the life skills, well-being and confidence of disabled children and young people aged 5-25 through music-making. We aim for every disabled child to have equal access to music-making opportunities as any other child and to experience the positive impact of music in all aspects of their lives – personally, socially and academically. We work to promote and enhance the involvement of highly skilled musicians and music teachers in projects with special needs children, raise awareness of importance of musical education and provide practical experience of working in special needs settings for teachers and organisations.
Our main activities are:
- Weekly music workshops at special needs schools, where there is little or no funding for musical activities;
- Specialist music lessons for individuals where we carefully match our students with highly qualified music teachers and monitor their progress closely through our evaluation process;
- Community integration activities to encourage disabled and non-disabled participants to work together in music-making activities (supporting our students in joining the local choirs, bands and ensembles; concerts, joint performances, participation in festivals and external productions);
- Teacher training programme – our experienced workshop leaders and teachers share their unique knowledge and skills with colleagues who are new to working with special needs children through practical hands-on involvement, mentoring, talks and making the results and outcomes of their work available to the wider professional community through publications, online platforms, articles and blogs.
The key feature of our work is continuity. We work with each of our students on a weekly basis, either through 1:1 lessons or in group setting. All our services are rolling programmes, so children and young people benefit over long period of time, typically 3-5 years, sometimes longer. At present, we work with over 800 students a year. There is some ongoing rotation within each school we work with, which means we get to work with about 20% new students each year.
Music of Life is uniquely positioned to deliver the work it does. Conceived and led by professional musicians and experienced special needs practitioners, it always stood for our belief in the importance of regular, ongoing music training. We take proactive approach to fundraising and matching the need and expertise: without our efforts none of the highly successful, badly-needed projects that benefit hundreds of children, their schools and families, would have happened. Since our inception in 2003, we accumulated a lot of knowledge specific to what works and what doesn’t in the special needs settings.
We address a real lack of opportunity for disabled children to experience the benefits of music education that for many of them is an essential developmental tool. There is often little or no funding for music-making, coupled with a lack of music teaching expertise in most special schools. Many of the parents whose child is disabled cannot afford to pay for it themselves or don’t know how to access the necessary resource. Mainstream providers find it difficult to adapt to children with disabilities, making longer-term engagement and progression difficult.
Our first online conference on 2nd July 2020 brought together key Music of Life workshop leaders and teachers, experts in music education for special needs children, existing and prospective project partners. The full recording with subtitles gives an excellent opportunity to learn about the scope of the organisation, its unique experience and knowledge. The speakers include Music of Life Patron Denise Leigh, programme leaders, project partners and direct beneficiaries. It also introduces the Teacher Training programme launched in the Summer 2020 with a view to increasing the number of Music of Life specialist teachers and workshop leaders.