All Together Now is a brand new music 'club' for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and their families, sessions have been taking place at the MAC in Birmingham for the last 10 months. Many disabled and SEN children have discovered hidden musical talents at ATN sessions which have included live interactive performances from some of the UK's best professional musicians.
7-year old Ruby Squire-Wood, who has down's syndrome, was admired by renowned Jazz group, Three Jazz, for her perfect timing whilst clapping along to a complicated Jazz rhythm that most adult musicians find difficult. She is certainly not alone, the children are allowed to have a go at playing the different instruments - with some discovering a phenomenal hidden talent.
There are also invaluable benefits for families with children who are unable to communicate verbally, as they've found music can be a way to communicate feelings and emotions to each other.
Previous sessions have featured musicians such as Walsh and Pound, one of the UK's biggest folk acts, and this Sunday Flamenco group, Trovador, will perform.
In addition to the upbeat music, there are many colourful visual displays and playtime equipment such as beach tents to engage the children. The beach tents are particularly engaging for children with autism as they provide an enclosed space where they can feel comfortable.
The title of the club 'All Together Now' describes the ethos of the group. Interactive activities as well as the live musical performances ensure that everyone in the family is catered for. Siblings of children with disabilities often have more responsibility than other children their age, and at the ATN sessions they generally gravitate toward each other, enjoying each other's company because of their similar experiences. In the same way, parents of SEN children find that the ATN sessions give them an invaluable opportunity to connect with other families in similar circumstances.
The sessions were funded by a National Lottery Grant won by musical charity, Live Music Now, which for over thirty years has been bringing the joy and inspiration of live music to thousands of people who would otherwise have limited access. Families with SEN children are able to enjoy live music in an environment specifically tailored to their needs.
The event's main organiser, Sharon Hopwood, was inspired to create the club after she and her husband took their own son, Thomas, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to a Folkcamp music based holiday.
"Seeing the way Thomas reacted when he was immersed in live music for the first time was incredible."
Marcia Squire-Wood, mother of Ruby says "My husband and I used to go to lots of live music events, but it is more difficult when you have a disabled child. Not all places are child friendly, and virtually none take place in a setting that is safe and secure for children with disabilities."
The last ATN session of the series will take place this Sunday at the MAC in Birmingham from 2-4pm.
For more information;
Contact Lydia Hayward on 02033 973383 or email lydia.hayward@
Live Music Now is the largest provider of live music to the UK's welfare, educational, justice and health sectors, with a unique resource of specially trained musicians.
For over thirty years, LMN has been putting into practice the visionary ideals of its founders, Yehudi Menuhin and Ian Stoutzker; bringing the joy and inspiration of live music to those who have limited access to conventional music-making, and helping to develop the careers of young talented musicians.
LMN's music programmes (comprising over 3,000 events each year) deliver social, emotional, physical and educational benefits to participants of all ages and abilities.