Horizons Adaptive Music Festival

At the beginning of August, I was happy to be a part of Horizons Adaptive Music Festival at LLBean. Horizons was started by the wonderful folks at Adaptive Outdoor Education Center, which provides fully accessible outdoor recreation and education. They are now branching into the arts, starting with music! I am 100% on board with this expansion, because music is something everyone should be able to enjoy. Music is fun to listen to, but when one participates the benefits go far beyond fun. 

The day was filled with workshops, performances, instruments, and singing. Many of the attendees got a harmonica to bring home. Some of the resources on display included: 

Maine Music & Health (yes, that's us!)
Be Your Note music therapy
Creative Trails' Listen Up program
Iris Network
317 Main Street
Lee Urban's Ukuleles Heal the World
Maine Audubon

Thanks to LLBean for having us!

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Here are some suggestions for making your music program more accessible: 

-Don't make assumptions about an individual's ability level based on the way they look or communicate.
-Be flexible in your style of teaching- if you can, ask the student how they prefer to learn (or see if you can ask their caregivers). Sometimes, rather than sticking to a classic way of teaching music, improvisation and exploration are key- we call this 'meeting in the music'. 
-Consider adaptive instruments and mallets - I especially like T shaped mallets for folks who have difficulty gripping a regular drum stick. It is also easy to adapt instruments like guitar just by tuning them differently- an open tuning is a good way to start if you just want a person to have a positive experience at first. 
-If you're going to be singing cover songs together, make sure you choose a tempo that the person can match. If someone has speech difficulties, adjust the song accordingly.
-Students with sensory differences will enjoy exploring instruments with various textures. It's also great to have instruments that give quick auditory feedback with each tactile response.
-Be open to different styles of music; if you were hoping to teach Duke Ellington but the student likes Marvin Gaye, meet in the music! You can both learn from each other.
-Be sure your instruments are in tune. ;)