Any instrumental music project takes students on a journey from a first experience of an instrument to the thrilling spectacle of a full concert.
These projects are usually the inspiration of an individual or organisation striving to give an opportunity to a group of individuals who may not ordinarily have access to music provision.
'Mencap Inspire Me' is a project designed to create opportunities and provide support to young people aged between 14 and 25 years with a learning disability. Mencap wanted to do something inspiring with Venture Arts, an organisation that has worked with people who have learning disabilities for over 25 years by providing art workshops.
Debbie John from Mencap contacted One Education Music with the idea of doing a music project using steelpans. This project would be something to create a new experience that would put a vibrant colour in the lives of the students. One Education agreed to facilitate a five week project that was to end with a film and performance to document their unique musical journey.
Byron Calame and Morris Clarke, from One Education, tutored the students through a progressive series of classroom sessions. Members of One Education's steelband ‘MYSteel’ also took part in the project as mentors and support to the tutors.
The students were introduced to the instruments in the steelpan family and the music they play. This gave them the opportunity to hear a completely new type of sound which they eventually learned how to create what they were hearing. The students practiced every Thursday for an hour between 5 and 6pm. During the first four weeks the students focused on developing skills such as listening, observational, communication and teamwork.
On 16 October 2014 (the fifth week) the students performed 'Diana' to friends and family at St Margaret's School, Whalley Range. Mysteel also performed at the performance.
What the students say?
Justin who turned 18 during the project, said 'I love music and I have really enjoyed learning the steelpans. I have been coming along with my best friend Baykai and I drew a picture of us playing the steelpans together which was framed and given as a thank you gift to the teachers'.
Venture Arts would love to reform their group and would welcome other people with learning disabilities within the Manchester area who would like to join. For more information contact Venture Arts on 0161 232 1223.