Building a Special Music Service, Note by Note

In 2001 David Stanley founded the Southend Mencap Music School in order to provide children and adults with an opportunity to learn about music on a weekly basis. Over a decade later he established the full time model of his music school and called it The Music Man Project.

Run by charity Southend Mencap, The Music Man Project is now the UK’s first full time music education service specifically children and adults with learning disabilities and special education needs. It provides unique and far reaching opportunities for musical development and enjoyment including daily adult classes, a weekly music school, a Special School Music Hub supporting children in schools, summer schools, free online learning resources and direct teaching, training and consultancy for schools, colleges and care homes. The service impacts over 250 people every week and serves 4 local schools and colleges. The Music Man Project provides traditional music education that is delivered in a bespoke and highly accessible way. Its aims and outcomes are purely musical and open to anyone. The students follow a special music curriculum and receive certificates as they surpass each prescribed achievement level. The Music Man Project is also an accredited centre for delivering the Trinity Arts Award.

Since the earliest days of the weekly music school David has encouraged the students to show the world what they can achieve. The Music Man Project educates society about the serious issues affecting people living with disability, such as Disability Hate Crime and the historic mistreatment of people considered as outcasts. The Music Man Project uses the transforming effect of music to teach understanding, tolerance and respect. Most importantly, this message comes from the students themselves and they are now finally beginning to access the major platforms they so richly deserve – such as the world famous London Palladium!

More Music Man Projects around the UK

One of the main priorities for The Music Man Project is to (in the words of the Prime Minister) “duplicate the model elsewhere in the country”. It aims to achieve this by providing training, support to set-up, administration and access to all existing teaching resources and performance opportunities. It plans to identify and nurture young “Music Men” and “Music Women” who can become future leaders in this field and who can carry forward the legacy of the first Music Man Project for the benefit of thousand more people and for the generations to come.

The Music Man Project recently launched a second branch covering the central Essex region. ‘Music Man Project Maldon’ will initially offer 2 hour music classes for adults on a weekly basis, run by regional director Natalie Bradford.