Helping ‘left behind’ children to learn
By Alison Broady,
An inspiring Christmas single has just been launched by David Stanley’s Music Man Project for learning disabled musicians, together with the Royal Marines Band.
"This is another sign that disabled musicians are being heard like never before." - David Stanley, Fellow
The Music Man Project is an award-winning music education and performance service specifically for children and adults with learning disabilities.
Twenty-two years ago, I met a young adult with Downs Syndrome called Tony. As a musician who had studied at Junior Guildhall, the Royal Academy and Kings College London, it seemed logical that I should explore how Tony might respond to my music. I started with ‘I Am The Music Man’ but Tony soon requested I played his favourite Christmas song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’. Some 14 renditions later, we both collapsed in fits of laughter. It was the middle of July after all! His reaction changed my life forever.
The Music Man Project is now a global beacon of accessible arts and culture and our musicians with learning disabilities are role models for their community, capable of entertaining audiences in their thousands at the world’s most prestigious performance venues. They herald a step-change from consumers of culture to talented creative artists. I also help other communities to start their own version of my service, providing original music, resources and performance opportunities for free and joining this remarkable community together through song. This way my original moment of joy with Tony in 1999 is multiplied infinitely, every day. My students have performed at the Royal Albert Hall, twice at the London Palladium, broken a Guinness World Record, performed to members of the Royal Family, opened a National Lottery TV advert and they regularly feature on TV and radio. They also received a standing ovation and 4 yes votes from celebrity judges on Britain’s Got Talent.
Following the brutal murder of The Music Man Project’s charity president, Sir David Amess MP, The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP and the PR Company TEAM LEWIS reached out to help us in his memory. Penny introduced me to Lt Col Jason Burcham, Commanding Officer of The Royal Marines Band Service. The Music Man Project now works in partnership with the Royal Marines Band to connect elite military musicians and people with learning disabilities through the universal language of music. Together we have made a single for Christmas, which you can watch the video for here. It’s available to download and stream on all major digital music stores and streaming services.
Lt Col Burcham says: “We couldn’t be prouder of this unique collaboration with The Music Man Project. Each performer radiates warmth, energy and positivity. They are also incredibly talented musicians. Rehearsing and recording this single was a wonderful experience. Everyone at the Royal Marines Band Service looks forward to creating magic this Christmas with The Music Man Project.”
Our Christmas single ‘Music is Magic’ celebrates the power of music to bring people together and transform lives, no matter their background. Whilst our aim is to get the single to Christmas number one, showing the world that magic can happen when we work together is more important. I’m thrilled that the single has been released by Sony – another sign that disabled musicians are being heard like never before.
The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.
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