In music, the major key reflects happiness. Everyone deserves to be happy in life. It is what we all strive for. If we go through difficult times, there is always the potential to once again be happy.
I know lots and lots of people with special needs who live very happy lives. My uncle Dessie who had Down syndrome was one of the happiest people I have ever known. He was light-hearted, upbeat, encouraging and enthusiastic. His day was filled with the company of his large family and music. Lots and lots of music. He had a large vinyl record collection of his country classics, as well as a mix of rock and roll and classical music. As he listened, he moved. His entire body responded to the rhythms, the melodies, the texture and tones. His joy of music had a ripple effect, making others in his company smile, and move along too. Dessie celebrated music in all its forms. He treated it with respect and love. He shared it and shared his response to it. Dessie was lucky in the sense that he had a large loving family that cared for him so hugely. His days were packed, each day an adventurous thrill of visiting, laughing, celebrating and enjoying the great things life had to offer him. He had a wonderful life. I put that down to the love, care and support of his family, and music. This is true for so many others too. The love, dedication, commitment, shared experiences, and music, has created a world of happiness and joy amidst the struggles. For the many other people with special needs that I have the pleasure of knowing, their journey to discovering happiness took time. It took dedication, research, intervention, and refinement. It took music.
In society today, I am very aware that there are very many special needs children, young people and adults whose lives are not filled with such happiness. On the contrary, they are lonely, unchallenged, unstimulated, and lacking self-worth. The opportunities are minimal, friendships scarce, and stimulating provision lacking. Some days are challenging, difficult, and utterly depressing. Frequently, it is an uphill battle for even the most basic of provision to be put in place. The future is uncertain and mostly terrifying. Yet, this does not have to be the case. Through my many years of growing up with Dessie, volunteering, teaching, lecturing, and researching in the field of special needs and music, it is clearly evident that this marginalized population can achieve happiness and contentment through consistent exposure to effective music interventions.
Music improvisation, if guided with accurate precision and innovative flair, opens up so much potential for children. I have witnessed how children have acquired language, shared ideas, negotiated sounds, evaluated sound combinations, performed solos, and connected through facial expression and gesture. I had searched for this key to unlocking creative potential for so very long. I searched in institutions, schools, colleges, community and voluntary organisations. I have worked with individuals, groups, ensembles, and entire production casts. And yet, when I reflect, I ask myself, how I did not see this major key? The key that is accessible and fun. Right there in front of me. Yet there was a reason for the length of time for such a discovery. I did not find it. My students did. I facilitated, guided and observed. I reflected, evaluated and challenged their thinking and skills. This consistently continued until we found something astoundingly unique. Life-changing. Innovative and cutting-edge. My students led the way to finding this key which has the potential to impact so many lives, young and old. A music improvisation technique which they uncovered, trialled, refined and are proud of. A creation which communicates from the heart, yet utilises thinking at a high level. It allows for emotional maturity to be applauded by all in its vicinity. The key has transformed and is transforming lives. The anxious child. The special needs child. The older child. The toddler. The autistic child. The child. #Conductologyis the major key.