Tag: music

Six Great Opportunities for Music and Song

Here are six wonderful music opportunities for people with disabilities in Massachusetts.

Integrated Chorus Programs

1. Special Needs Arts Programs, Inc.(SNAP), Lexington
SNAP offers an array of music and arts programs including the “Sing Along Chorus” and “Sing Along Singers”, two integrated choruses for teens and adults with disabilities. Both choruses meet weekly throughout the year offering social activities and community outreach through performance.

All are welcome to attend SNAP’s Spring Sing-A- Long Concert on Sunday, April 3rd at 3:00 PM at First Parish Church, Lexington.

For additional information about the choruses, contact Marsha Martin, Director at (781) 862-8971 or marshamartin@yahoo.com.

2. Minute Man Arc Chorus, Concord
This adult chorus for people with developmental disabilities is also directed by Marsha Martin with weekly rehearsals from September thru June. Musical performances are presented in June and during the holiday season.

The 2011 June performance will feature the musical, “Peter Pan”.

For information about joining the chorus or volunteer opportunities, contact Darcie Heller, Recreation Director, at (978) 297- 7936 or dheller@minutemanarc.org

3. South Shore Conservatory Community Voices, Duxbury
This twelve week choral opportunity is offered to people with developmental delays, ages 16 years and older. Performances are scheduled in December and June.

Eve Montague, the choral director, can be reached at (781) 934-2831 x20 or e.montague@sscmusic.org.

Read about Eve Montague’s passion for music and directing in a recent article in the Patriot Ledger, Music Therapist Enriches the Lives of Special Needs Teens and Adults.

Music Workshop

4. Community Access to the Arts (CATA), Great Barrington
CATA offers a singing workshop which meets weekly from fall thru spring and is inclusive for all ages. Participants perform in a May program with the other CATA performing artists.

Contact Adrienne Brown, Program Coordinator, at (413) 528-5485 x105 for music workshop availability.

Music Education Programs

5. The Boston Conservatory Autism Project, Chestnut Hill

The Boston Conservatory Autism Project is the first music program in the nation for young musicians, ages 8 – 22 on the Autism Spectrum. The program develops the musical talents of students who may eventually have the skills to apply to a Conservatory or College Music Program at the age of 18. Weekly music lessons are offered in voice, violin, viola, cello, piano, guitar, music theory, and music composition.

To learn more about this exciting program, check out their five minute music program video.

6. Berkshire Hills Music Academy, South Hadley
Berkshire Hills Music Academy is a private, post-secondary school for young adults with musical aptitude who have learning, cognitive or developmental disabilities. The curriculum is designed to promote job readiness as well as to cultivate abilities in the performing arts.

For further information on the Academy call (413) 540-9720 x202

Be sure to share with us any additional music and choral opportunities in Massachusetts that you enjoy.

Thomas and Friends Connect through Song

closeup of Thomas Largy

This week I decided to attend a rehearsal for the Sing Along Singers, a chorus of the Special Needs Arts Programs (SNAP) and see firsthand what it was all about.

Simply put, it was wonderful.

While there, I spent some time with Thomas E. Largy, a member of the chorus whose enthusiasm was contagious. This week I share his thoughts on the chorus including friendships made, songs sung and the role music has played in his life.

Friendship through singing

“I first came to chorus a few years ago and only knew Marilyn Abel; she used to be my music teacher. Now I have friends from Lexington and Bedford. It is so nice here because we are all friends, we get along and we love to sing. I am enjoying it so much I come every week.”

Tom and I had arrived early to talk, but at this point, people started coming in and as friends do, they greeted each other warmly.picture of two men arriving

“We sing together but we also do other things like potluck suppers and sometimes we have pizza dinners. We have fun. These are my friends and we really care about each other. ”

A vast repertoire

As we began singing through their repertoire of songs, I was impressed by the wide range of music.

“I like the old classics like ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad’, but I also like to learn new songs. I listen to the radio that’s how I knew Dionne Warwick. But now I get to sing, ‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ with my friends, not just listen to the song on the radio by myself”.

Music makes an impact

“When you go places to sing, it gives people enjoyment. I love singing at the Youville Villas. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they sing. As long as they are happy, I’m happy”.

Tom then pulled out a spiral notebook and a keyboard he had brought with him.

“I like to write my own songs. I wrote a song with compassion because that means you care about people and that’s how I feel”.

He then began to sing me a song that he will perform in next week’s talent show, “I feel with my heart”.

And as I listened to the words, I realized through our common love for music, that Tom and his fellow chorus members had touched mine.

picture of Sue Crossley with Tom Largy

The Joy of Music Brings People Together

Colorful musical notes
When I think of ways to bring people together, music would have to be at the top of the list.

Whether you are making music together in a choir or just singing with friends, music makes you part of something bigger than yourself. It crosses all boundaries, as people find themselves with a common interest that can touch the heart and feed the soul.

For a person with a disability it can truly make a difference.

Music saves the night

One of my first work experiences was at Belchertown State School. I worked as a Psyche Aide on the evening shift with about 40 adults of different ages, backgrounds and disabilities. People didn’t socialize with each other; in fact the goal was to reduce the  arguing.

It was chaotic to say the least.

One evening I decided to bring in my guitar and try to get people to sing together, or at least listen. It was 1978, and I figured everyone knew at least the chorus to “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

As I started to play, the change was amazing. People from all over the building slowly came into the room and either started singing, moving to the music or just watching quietly.

Singing with a friend

But the biggest surprise was Jane.

She and I did not have a great relationship, as my main role in her life was to convince her not to take another shower. You see Jane took an average of 20 showers a day.

When I got to the chorus, Jane pulled up next to me and started to sing with the most beautiful voice, one I never imagined from her. .. And as the night went on, we shared our love for music and my friend and I sang at the top of our lungs.

A local chorus makes a difference

This month, I am excited to introduce the Special Needs Art Program (SNAP), a wonderful group in Lexington offering music and the arts to people with disabilities. They too know the value of singing at the top of your lungs and the simple joy it can bring into a persons’ life.

We will hear from Marilyn Abel, one of the founders of SNAP and  a member of the chorus who shares her enthusiasm and support for the program.

As we hear more about the role music can play in the life of a person with a disability, don’t forget to include it in yours.

Whether you sing in a chorus or in the shower, believe me, singing is just really fun.