The Music Man Project
The Music Man Project is the UK’s first full-time music education service specifically for children and adults with learning disabilities. It was founded in South Essex by former Deputy Head Teacher David Stanley to meet a growing demand from parents for regular and accessible musical opportunities for their children. His aim was to access the innate musicality in everyone, regardless of their learning difficulty or special educational need. David initially established a weekly music school in 2001 and then in 2012, shortly after qualifying as a Head Teacher, he left his mainstream secondary school post to launch a full-time specialist charitable provision. His approach centres on education, enjoyment and performance through the teaching of his original music at special schools, colleges, care homes, weekly music schools and daily adult classes in the community.
The Music Man Project now operates in Essex, Suffolk, Sussex, London (in partnership with the Royal College of Music), Northern Ireland and South Africa. Although delivery style and time frames may differ, The Music Man Project provides the same opportunities afforded to aspiring mainstream musicians by offering the best tuition, instruments, musical repertoire and performance platforms available. It delivers inspirational performances which raise awareness and challenge misconceptions, such as entertaining runners at the London Marathon, closing Royal Mencap’s first national conference in Liverpool, performing in concert at the Royal College of Music and presenting its own West End show at the world-famous London Palladium. The Music Man Project’s charity single topped the Amazon Broadway chart and the e-book, “Music is Magic: The Story of the Music Man Project” led the Amazon Kindle Special Education chart. It has been shortlisted to the final of the Music Teachers Awards for Excellence twice in the last three years (Best SEN Resource category) and has just won the 2016 Kids Count Inspiration Best Creative Contribution Award. The Music Man Project has been described as tremendous by the Prime Minister and outstanding by OFSTED.
The Music Man Project develops the musical instinct that lies within us all to instil confidence, self-esteem and as a vehicle for joy and emotional expression. Rather than focusing on their disability, all students are treated as musicians and Southend Mencap, the charity which runs the project, has only the highest aspirations for what can be achieved by everyone involved in this unique innovation. The musical outcomes are presented to the public in large-scale performances as a way of educating the wider society about what people with disabilities can do rather than what they need. David Stanley campaigns for equal opportunities for musicians with learning disabilities to perform at the most prestigious concert venues and high-profile events.
In June 2015, The Music Man Project made its West End debut in a unique ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’, featuring almost 200 adults, children and special school pupils. They were supported by The Music Man Project Orchestra, The Music Man Project Community Choir, the original Tiller Girls and special guest appearances by stars of Britain’s Got Talent. Music is Magic included the world premiere of our new musical From the Asylum to the Palladium which told the story of “mental” hospitals where people with learning disabilities were treated as patients alongside single mothers, the mentally ill, homosexuals and poorly behaved children. The journey from this dreadful past to the current ‘care in the community’ and the relative opportunities available today was presented by the performers themselves, and was a moving and stark reminder of the struggle faced by people with learning disabilities over many years. The concert played to a packed audience and was the first of its kind in a West End theatre.
The Music Man Project will return to the London Palladium stage on Sunday 15th October 2017 with a new show featuring musicians with learning disabilities from Essex, Suffolk, Sussex and London.
The Music Man Project is committed to academic research supporting continued development of effective active participation for the learning disabled.