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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stanley

A music conservatory for Special Needs (DMF 2)

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

The co-founder, inspiration, ambassador and living example of everything that Daniel’s Music Foundation stands for is Daniel Trush. In 1997, at the age of 12, one of five aneurysms burst inside his brain. His doctors did not expect him to survive, but he proved them wrong. Music in various forms played a critical role in every phase of his recovery. Most importantly, it was music that maintained his connection to the people around him – and to the very essence of life. This life altering experience was the inspiration for Daniel’s Music Foundation.

As I entered the 8,700-square foot, custom-built music centre in East Harlem, I knew I was somewhere truly special. I was greeted by their Marketing & Diversity Awareness Director, Carla Sullivan. The fact they had one was impressive, I thought.

The lift opens into “Café Snackappella”, a meeting area where students, parents and teachers relax together, enjoy refreshments and peruse the range of merchandise on sale while past performances and in-house documentaries are shown on a big TV screen.

Carla guides me along a double width circular walkway designed for wheelchair users to pass each other safely. There are no rooms around the edge of the building. Instead, large clear windows provide panoramic views of the city as you complete your circuit and return to the Café. Inspiring quotes from Daniel himself adorn the walls, along with framed concert posters, timetables, events and activities, major achievements and a particularly beautiful display of framed certificates commemorating students who have passed away.

All the studios are in the middle of the floor (originally the second floor of an office block). There are windows so everyone can see in and out, but they are also completely silent. Soundproofing has been installed everywhere “so we are good neighbours to the East Harlem community”, Carla explains. She shows me a state-of-the-art recording studio where they write and record their music, a keyboard studio, guitar studio, percussion studio, larger rehearsal room, offices, disabled toilets and storage. Every teaching space has a piano (supplied by Yamaha for free), African drums, a sound system and chairs. Everywhere was bright, colourful, clean and welcoming. It had a fantastic atmosphere.

During my tour we were joined by Daniel himself who was delighted to be visited by someone from the UK. I told him he was world-famous! This was a music conservatory for Special Needs, and I could hardly believe my eyes.

Dizzy from how impressive it all was, I sat down with Daniel’s father, Ken in his large office. He had seen our website and was as keen to find out about my organisation as I was about his. So began a poignant and emotional meeting of minds…

Read the final Churchill Fellowship report here.

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