There’s a new Irish orchestra for disabled children – and it’s TRULY inspirational

8 February 2019, 13:12 | Updated: 8 February 2019, 13:54

Down syndrome boy using tablet
Down syndrome boy using tablet. Picture: Getty

By Helena Asprou

This heart-warming youth orchestra is proving once again that when it comes to music, it’s a universal language

A new initiative has been launched in Dublin to form the country’s first ever orchestra for disabled children – and it’s completely changing people’s lives.

Whether the children are living with Down syndrome, autism or cerebral palsy, anyone with a disability is welcome to join.

Unlike many other orchestras that recruit musicians based on their musical ability, Le Chéile uses something called 'conductology' to help the children connect through music.

Conductology is a technique developed by Dr. Denise White of Ulster University and it involves all members of the ensemble agreeing on 18 gestures before they play together – building confidence and enhancing communication.

Along with many others, Brendan Breslin, Head of RIAM (Royal Irish Academy of Music) Connect and Course Supervisor of the eCourse in Music Ensemble Direction has been instrumental in getting the project off the ground.

He said: “What we are doing is setting up four inclusive ensembles and will use assistive technology, including iPads, MacBook and motion sensors, to allow people with physical and intellectual challenges to access music performance.

“Some of these people don’t have the ability to access regular instruments or artistic output, so it overcomes that barrier.”

Funded by the Creative Ireland Programme, The Open Youth Orchestra of Ireland plans to draw members from each Irish province before commencing in September.

By encouraging children to create contemporary music in a way that works for them, this heart-warming orchestra is a truly positive step forward for the next generation of musicians.