Describing your blog as “David Stanley's global campaign for accessible music education and inspirational performance opportunities for all” is an ambitious claim at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a Coronavirus lockdown. The world has ground to a halt and Music Man Project classes and performances have obviously ceased until further notice. Our musicians with learning disabilities have been cut off from what they love.
We all need routine, stimulation, education and opportunity. We all need care, friendship, affection and hope. But to appreciate the plight of the learning-disabled, multiply these needs by a thousand and combine them with confusion and anxiety about what pandemic, social distancing and lockdown actually means. Add their increased risk of isolation, loneliness, depression and dementia and you get closer to how they are feeling right now.
Consider too their physical frailty. Most people with learning disabilities have underlying health conditions. For many, even the most innocuous illness becomes a death sentence. Then there is the unreliability of vital care, medicine and equipment that comes with a lockdown, and the choice between inviting a potentially infected carer into your home or going to hospital. Pressure on family increases significantly and breaking the unique bond between client and carer can be devastating. Hopefully, you have a fit and caring family to support you. Thousands of people with a learning disability face all this alone.
To complete the picture, add the horrible thought that if you did contract the virus you might be at the end of the queue for a ventilator or not treated at all because of your disability.
As I wrote this blog, one of our musicians appeared on the following Sky News report:
Despite these awful circumstances, The Music Man Project charity is doing everything it can to keep the music playing during the Coronavirus outbreak. Music classes and concerts in schools and the community have been replaced by a voluntary run digital service called '#MMPWired', consisting of online lessons, live Facebook sing-alongs, music videos and new rehearsal material to entertain families and enable students to practice at home.
We have also released the first series of The Music Man Project Podcast, featuring interviews, music and news stories from our projects across the UK and around the world and have launched a new YouTube channel to showcase the talents and achievements of our amazing musicians over the past 20 years.
The Royal Albert Hall has granted special permission for us to show highlights from last year’s Music is Magic concert, allowing our students to relive better times when they performed to 3000 people at the world’s most iconic concert hall, exactly one year ago.
Finally, I am personally video-calling as many individual students as possible to play music and to talk about how they are coping during this difficult time.
The more separated we are, the more we need to join together in other ways to support one another.
I believe opportunity is hidden in every moment, no matter how dark things may seem. The coronavirus lockdown is a chance for The Music Man Project charity to ensure its services are better than ever when we finally return to the music-making. The campaign for accessible music education and inspirational performance opportunities for all continues, just in a slightly different form for the time being.
Click here to listen to The Music Man Project Podcast.
Click here to watch The Music Man Project YouTube Channel
Click here to follow The Music Man Project Facebook Page (#MMPWired)
Click here to visit The Music Man Project Website
Finally, please read this poignant blog by the excellent Rachel Wright, author of the inspirational book The Skies I'm Under. It is called Lockdown: Caring Isn't Cancelled.