Music of Life is a national charity that uses high-quality music-making to advance education and improve the health and well-being of disabled children and young people aged up to 25. Our vision is of a world where disabled children and young people have the same access to music-making as any other child. Through long-term engagement with specialist teachers, the children experience the joy of making music while benefiting medically, academically and socially.
We engage with our students on a long-term basis, using music as a proven method to boost their confidence and social skills, help them achieve recognised qualifications, improve their chances of employment, raise their expectations of life and make positive changes to their medical conditions.
We support around 400 disadvantaged children each year and there are 4 main strands to our work: Weekly music workshops at special needs schools, mostly in areas of high deprivation, where there is little or no funding for musical activities. We also run a unique programme in London with Deaf children, entirely led by qualified music teachers who are themselves profoundly Deaf and some of our signed-music lessons are available on our new YouTube channel. Specialist music lessons for individuals, carefully matching specialist teachers with students, Support/Advocacy for disabled young people who feel ready to join mainstream musical activities, such as local choirs and youth bands, with the provision of adapted transport where required, Community integration activities to encourage disabled and non-disabled participants to work together in music-making activities, on equal terms.
We know that children and young people with learning and physical disabilities rarely get the opportunity to benefit from taking part in music-making, yet these activities have been shown to produce real improvements in their medical conditions, academic progress, social engagement and self-esteem. These children, often from disadvantaged homes, are the focus of Music of Life's work. Our vision is that every disabled child should have the same access to music-making as every other child. Since 2003, we have supported over 2500 children and young people who would otherwise not have had an opportunity to learn music or participate in any musical activities leading to demonstrable improvements in many aspects of their lives.
We work with specialist schools for disabled children and individual students in London, the Midlands and North-West addressing the real lack of opportunity for music training and participatory recreational activities for special needs pupils. Many of our families face social and economic deprivation and find it very hard or impossible to pay for music-making activities and we do not charge families for our support. Our experience has shown that the significant and sustainable benefits of engaging disabled children with music-making only accrue through long-term engagement. This is why we work with our students week in and week out, often for several years. We work with children with a wide range of disabilities and behavioural issues including autism, ADHD, visual and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down’s Syndrome, spinal and motor disorders, genetic and life-limiting conditions. Regular engagement in musical activities helps combat the multiple and complex issues they often encounter including social isolation, anxiety, frustration and depression which can in turn lead to aggressive behaviour, self-harm and an inability to form friendships.