Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Music and the mentally handicapped

DigiTrad:
NINE GOLD MEDALS
WALKIN ON MY WHEELS
YOU WOULDN'T KNOW IT TO LOOK AT ME


Related threads:
Traditional songs about disabilities (34)
Bouchard's or Heberden's nodes -surgery? (9)
Musicians with hearing aids (38)
Can't play the guitar anymore (39)
Relearning instruments after a stroke (24)
musicians with Asperger's Syndrome (110)
Musicians with Hearing Aids (103)
BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales (228)
Ulnar Nerve Compression (33)
finger pain -- diet (7)
Lyr Add: I Can Jump Puddles (Hugh & Tony Williams) (20)
singing during chemo (9)
songs about disabilities (106)
A hand surgery question? (22)
Dupuytrens Contracture (42)
Help: Disabled Musician (24)
Songs about disability (56)
Fest sites no help to visually impaired? (28)
The Hand Injury (17)
Autistic kids and music - need ideas! (13)
Fiddle playing and surgery (15)
Playing inspite of injury/disability (36)
Guitarist with buggered finger (26)
Instruments for physically disabled ? (50)
Tech: Help with a pinched nerve (15)
BS: Help-exercise & chronic disability (37) (closed)
art & crafts for severely disabled (16)
Whistle playing for the handicaped folks (9)
accessible clubs (3)
BS: Disability discrimination act (13) (closed)
Ethical Question - Handicapped Fans (51)


Marion 01 May 00 - 02:23 PM
Kara 01 May 00 - 02:34 PM
SINSULL 01 May 00 - 02:34 PM
Sorcha 01 May 00 - 02:37 PM
Vixen 01 May 00 - 03:58 PM
Ely 01 May 00 - 04:39 PM
sophocleese 01 May 00 - 06:15 PM
JenEllen 02 May 00 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,Suzy Thompson 02 May 00 - 08:52 AM
DonMeixner 02 May 00 - 01:57 PM
Sorcha 02 May 00 - 02:08 PM
TerriM 02 May 00 - 02:13 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 May 00 - 02:40 PM
DonMeixner 02 May 00 - 03:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 May 00 - 07:39 PM
catspaw49 02 May 00 - 07:53 PM
KT 02 May 00 - 11:40 PM
Llanfair 03 May 00 - 03:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 May 00 - 05:08 AM
Musicman 03 May 00 - 12:18 PM
Jacob B 03 May 00 - 05:53 PM
Marion 05 May 00 - 05:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 May 00 - 06:20 PM
Sorcha 05 May 00 - 06:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 May 00 - 07:05 PM
Sorcha 06 May 00 - 12:51 AM
KT 06 May 00 - 03:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 May 00 - 06:56 AM
TerriM 06 May 00 - 08:16 AM
KT 06 May 00 - 01:35 PM
The Shambles 06 May 00 - 02:29 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 May 00 - 11:43 AM
catspaw49 07 May 00 - 12:15 PM
Jacob B 08 May 00 - 10:16 AM
Peter T. 08 May 00 - 11:03 AM
McGrath of Harlow 09 May 00 - 07:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 May 00 - 07:49 PM
Marion 16 Jun 00 - 10:59 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Jun 00 - 08:28 PM
Night Owl 16 Jun 00 - 10:43 PM
GUEST,Anita 25 Oct 10 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Oct 10 - 09:32 AM
LadyJean 27 Oct 10 - 12:40 AM
mattkeen 27 Oct 10 - 04:57 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Marion
Date: 01 May 00 - 02:23 PM

Hello folks. I thought that I would share a bit about my current professional/musical situation in the hope that some of you will find it interesting.

I am a volunteer live-in assistant at L'Arche Cape Breton. L'Arche is a Catholic-based intentional community for mentally handicapped adults and the people who help them. Our mission is to live together like a big family, each with their own work and recreation, and the more able people helping out the less able people where needed.

When I got here about a month ago, I expected that a simple, rural lifestyle would give me lots of opportunity to work on my musical skills, and I expected that my fiddle, guitar, and voice would be good ways for me to spend quality time with the handicapped folks. But oh my God... I didn't know the half of it.

As the community leader here said "Some of the people here centre their lives around music and food, and for the others, it's food and music." Many of the folks have instruments (or multiple instruments) and many others dance and sing at the drop of a hat. There are two folks who play air fiddle every time they see me. There is one woman who has a set of harmonicas and plays them constantly when she is walking around or saying her prayers. There is another woman who bounces up and down and yells "Yes! Yes! I'm so happy!" when I play a song that she knows. There is a man who, despite autism and a quite severe mental handicap, has a passion for guitars - he will stare intently at anyone carrying or playing a guitar, and keeps track of what rooms guitars are kept in and tries to sneak into them (unfortunately, his passion for guitars can be a little violent so we have to guard them from him). Doing the dishes after supper almost invariably involves a very loud radio and people dancing around the kitchen. Every day, and sometimes more than once a day, I jam with a couple of guys in my household. Singing during community masses or meetings, and campfires, and living room jams with guests from other households are all regular events.

Here are some of the musical lessons that I have learned here:

1. I have learned what a jam is. When I say that I jam with the guys I live with... really, I am the only one who knows anything about how to play, but my roommates just live for the chance to whale away at their guitar and fiddle while I'm playing something. Although this is quite different from the jams I've been used to before, I realized that it is what a jam should be: everybody is welcome, and everybody brings the best that they can. I should also mention that it is always me who brings the jam to an end... the guys are always ready to go on playing. I also reflect that there have been musicians willing to play along with me whose skills exceed mine by just as much as my skills exceed these guys'.

2. I have learned what a musician is. Let me tell you about Dave, one of the roommates I mentioned above. He has both Down's Syndrome and Alzheimer's, but one thing that he never forgets is that he is a proud Cape Breton fiddler. A brutally frank assessment of his chops would be that he knows which hand to hold the fiddle in and which hand the bow, and not much else. However, he greets me every morning by saying "You and me play violin," and I have to remind him every morning not to bring his fiddle to work. He plays air fiddle every time he hears a fiddle on the radio or a tape. He has a fiddle that his late parents gave him, and every time he plays it he starts by solemnly stating, "A violin is not a toy," and he kisses is goodbye when he puts it back in the case. When he plays along with me, he bows agressively, counts in the tunes, taps his feet, and cheers when I start to accelerate a tune or start droning strings.

I think about Dave when I remember a thread we had here once on what made somebody a musician. Does he suck? Absolutely. But is he a musician? Absolutely.

3. I am learning something about playing under adverse circumstances. The folks with instruments love to jam along and it can get pretty noisy, so I'm getting used to playing without being able to hear myself. Also, I'm learning to take in stride while playing if people suddenly hug me, or want to touch my strings or bow, or dance so close I have to dodge, or spit on my fiddle (it's happened once)... and I'm getting used to playing guitar under the intense scrutiny of the guitar-smashing gentleman I mentioned above, and taking it coolly when he escapes his assistant's attention and comes and takes a swipe at me.

4. Unfortunately, I am also learning something about how musical elitism is part of human nature. Dave and Gary are the guys I jam with daily, and there's another roommate, Trevor, who normally just wanders in and out the room when we have music, not paying it much attention. But a few days I ago I convinced him to try the harmonica, and he got really into it, dancing around and tapping his feet and playing runs up and down. I was thrilled... but then Dave and Gary were glaring at him and telling him to shut up. Although Trevor could, in an objective sense, play harmonica just as well as they can play guitar and fiddle, nonetheless they are dedicated musicians and he was just fooling around, so he wasn't welcome.

Marion


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Kara
Date: 01 May 00 - 02:34 PM

I have often noticed when busking , how interested in music people with down syndrome are. They often start to dance in the street. I have a friend who works with a group of people who have down syndrome, doing dance and percussion with them. I saw them perfofm once and it was great, got pretty intense, boardering on the scarry.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: SINSULL
Date: 01 May 00 - 02:34 PM

My son attended a school for learning disabled children. Music was a uniting force. These were children who for the most part were ostracised from "normal" social interactions with other children. But at the school, folk music, rock, rap, whatever played a critical role in helping them to learn how to behave is a common social setting.

One friend knows the lyrics to every 50s record ever published. It gives her such joy.

The school accepts donations of used instruments for their orchestra. Recently, I found a flute for them that turned out to be worth something. They sold it and bought much needed refurbs.

If you enjoy your work even half as much as the people benefitting from it, you must be a happy lady.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Sorcha
Date: 01 May 00 - 02:37 PM

It's a Wonderful Life!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Vixen
Date: 01 May 00 - 03:58 PM

My partner and I have been playing a sort of weekly (6 weeks on, 4 weeks off) music gig for mentally retarded clients for the last two years. There is nothing like it. We've learned their names and favorite songs, and when we play stuff they like, we're major stars. When we try out new stuff for the first time, the audience loves our "world premieres"! As Marion mentions--the antics of the audience has made me virtually indistractable! It's SO much fun!

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Ely
Date: 01 May 00 - 04:39 PM

A family who has been a member of our dulcimer club for maybe 6 years has a son who is mentally handicapped. It's been very good for him because the other members treat him just like they do everyone else and it's something that he can participate in along with his brother (who is a very gifted musician with well above-average intelligence) and parents. He plays the lap dulcimer and the autoharp. He also loves square dancing and is pretty good at it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: sophocleese
Date: 01 May 00 - 06:15 PM

When I lived in Hamilton there was a Down's Syndrome aman who would stand near the doors of the Farmer's Market under Copp's Colliseum; lots of concrete all around for sound to echo and echo on. He would wander up and down by the wall and sing away to himself and the listening air. There seemd to be few discernible words but a whole world of feeling in his singing. Stopping to listen to him was one of the high points of going to market.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: JenEllen
Date: 02 May 00 - 02:51 AM

I team-taught a 'Living Skills' class for developmentally disabled adults for quite a few years. My partner was strictly by-the-books when it came to teaching, and had not a shred of spontaneity in her being. We split the class into two groups, her's usually consisted of money-math and reading (both very important subjects).
I had always thought my sessions to be a bit relaxed, until the day I accidentally left the radio on in the kitchen. Even while 'working', toes were tapping, people were singing, and it made me remember how important music can be. I certainly don't clean my own home in dead silence, I sing calypso tunes at the top of my lungs, so why would I teach someone to do otherwise?
This began a new group of sessions, like 'Friday Dances' where we knocked off early to "party down" as one student put it, and 'Tuesday Tunes' where we took turns bringing instruments and playing for each other.
I've read numerous scientific articles on music and brain chemistry since then, most of it makes perfect sense, and it makes me wonder why I didn't think of it sooner.
Many Mudcatter have been a great source of help and inspiration on the subject as well (NightOwl/Musicman/Jeri)
Thanks to you all for such an interesting topic. ~Elle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: GUEST,Suzy Thompson
Date: 02 May 00 - 08:52 AM

What a wonderful thread! I am a musician with a mentally disabled (actually the PC term now is developmentally disabled) daughter who is now 14. Corrina doesn't play anything (not so good coordination) but she is a great singer and a great appreciator of the music. Nothing pleases her more than to lay down on the couch when there are people in the room playing and singing. When people come over to the house, the first thing she asks them is if they're going to play music.

I have been thinking a lot about what kind of living situation Corrina would be in as an adult. One thing I definitely have wanted is for her to be in a living situation where people are playing music. She is somewhat of a musical snob, i.e. she knows the difference between good music and bad music, no matter what genre. She has always had incredible understanding of intonation, and also of subtle stuff like vocal ornamentation. In fact if any of you have ever read the liner notes to one of Kate Brislin & Jody Stecher's album in which they mention a small child who identified the Stanley Brothers as Kate & Jody, that was Corrina.

Anyway reading your messages gave me hope that we could eventually set up something for her once she is an adult that could include music. The folkie community is truly incredible! Suzy Thompson


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: DonMeixner
Date: 02 May 00 - 01:57 PM

In the center where I am employed Developmental Disability covers a broad range of disabilities. From Cerebral Palsy to Friedrich's Ataxia and many spaces with in. Not all people with a DD are mentally disabled but a percentage are. Not all people who have an MR diagnosis are physically disabled. But saddly, only a decade or so ago it was assumed that all people with a disability from birth were probably mentally impaired as well. Consequentally many were locked away in Developmental Centers, Enclaves, and asylums. A little enlightenment into the world of developmental disability and the world has changed. Mostly this came about with the invention of many diverse communications devices.

We work with many people who are unable to communicate verbally but are in no way mentally impaired. With communications devices like Prentke-Romichs Liberator, which has Blue Hawaii programed into it, and The Dynavox and DynaMyte by Sunrise, Inc. many of these people are learning to speak. Some folks are writing eloquent poetry and still others are writing lyrics. Once the incredible potential of personal communication is unlocked, hidden artists are coming out of the darkness that was caused by a Devlopmental Disability diagnosis.

With the newly developed voice synthesizing software and midi interfaces for computers, there is no reason why people who are with out vocallization abilities shouldn't soon be singing their own songs with their own voices.

Don


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 May 00 - 02:08 PM

Let me tell you about Steve--he is about 40, and a resident of our Care Center/Nursing Home. Steve lived with his mother (who is now 80) until about 3 years ago. Steve is retarded/challenged, whatever you want to call ti, and severly spastic. He is wheelchair-bound, and LOVES music. When my group plays at his "house", Steve leads the whole group. He "sings", laughs, and dances in his wheelchair. He is a very affectionate person, and wants to hug us while we play. That only causes a few problems, because we take turns hugging and playing. This guy gets really wound up, and I have wondered just what the Staff does after we leave to calm him and how long it takes to get him to bed!! BUT, none of the Staff have ever suggested we cut our playing short so they can get Steve to bed. He is so precious, and all the Elder residents get a big kick out of the "Kid" in their midst.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: TerriM
Date: 02 May 00 - 02:13 PM

having worked with people with learning disability for a number of years now I have noticed that music in one form or another is important to the vast majority of them and there is also a direct link through art ( visual or auditory) which can aid communication with the most disabled of people.I am delighted when I can persuade someone to pick up an instrument, sing, dance or mess about with paint and clay because I know that I'm one step closer to understanding whats going on for them ( I don't mean that to sound patronsisng , of course I can't understand everything but it helps)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 May 00 - 02:40 PM

Great to have a post from someone in a l'Arche community, Marion. Tell us more.

When I was in l'Arche for a few weeks in Kent, many years ago, we had all kinds of visitors from l'Arche communities from mainland Europe coming through and visiting - and one of the things that struck me was that people with learning difficulties were so very much of their own cultures - I mean the ones from France were so French you couldn't believe it, and the same for the Italians.

"Some of the people here centre their lives around music and food, and for the others, it's food and music."

I love that. Sounds like my daughter, who's autistic - except with her it'd be "sometimes her life centres round music and food, and sometimes the other way round."

But nine times out of ten, if she cries at night, it's music, and not just any music. It might be Frank Zappa, it might be Gregorian Chant, it might be Mozart, or Vin Garbutt, or Ravi Shakar. You have to work out the right one, and be ready to keep changing till you hit the spot.

What drives me crazy are day centres and residential places where the staff just stick any old sound on and turn their backs on it all. Used to make her angry too, till we managed to get something better set up.

The general term I prefer to use, when it's necessary to use a general term (and most of the time there's no reason to - people have names) is to talk about "people with learning difficulties" - though of course sometimes the people with the biggest difficulties in learning are the people in charge of organising services.

And it's not a matter of "political correctness" - it's the idea that you should treat people with respect and courtesy. I've been told often enough by people who've been called "mentally handicapped" or "retarded" that they don't like those labels. But of course the crucial tbning that matters is the attitudes that lies under the labels - and there are people using less offensive words in such a way as to ensure that sooner or later they will have the same insulting quality as the old ones they replace. And people using the old labels can have precisely the right attitudes.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: DonMeixner
Date: 02 May 00 - 03:44 PM

My Aunt, Elinor Gyatt, is a Babtist Missionary, educator, and the mother of an adult son with Downs Syndrome. Peter was born in the days when he was called a Mosaic Mongoloid child. Elinor is writing a book about raising a Downs child in a third world country, Costa Rica and later Colombia. Her credentials are quite vast and her personal experience is quite wide. She has little tolerance for for a system that renames itself on an almost annual basis. We talked about this very topic over Gin and Tonics and Ice Teas last summer.( She had the tea.) Elinor said its a lot like building a bridge to get from one side of the gorge to the other. You know where you are and where you are going. Don't let the solution, the bridge, stand in the way of you getting there. She said if people had spent the same time working on solutions that they had spent on debating labels and names, great strides could have been made in care, education, and the advancement of individual dignity.

Don


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 May 00 - 07:39 PM

Yes - changing the words doesn't change the attitudes. And while attitudes of exclusion remain, any words are going to take on negative meanings. Nobody could have thought of a more positive and supportive term than Cretin, "Christian" - but people have managed to turn it into an insult.

But I think it's important to accept the judgement of people directly affected, and there are plenty of people with learning difficulties who are very articulate and determined about this, and that's where I takle my lead. I'm not going to use a word that offends the person it's used about. And I won't use it about people who are less articulate either, like my daughter.

I like the sound of Don's aunt, and the bridge metaphor. Here's a link to Inclusion Press, a site with some good stuff about people who have been doing a lot to reshape attitudes and the way services are organised.

Barn dances can be a great thing in this sort of context -I remember at a folk festival barn dance seeing a couple of young people with Down Syndrome having a great time, and opening a lot of minds, as the structure of the dance meant they kept on changing partners, which meant pretty well everybody got to dance with them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 May 00 - 07:53 PM

Very enjoyable thread. As most are aware, my son Tristan is MR with multiple autistic tendencies. He loves music if he can dance to it! The faster the better. He is particularly enamored of learning songs with "actions." Last summer, he spent two weeks at "Cousinfest" with his Aunt Karolyn in Atlanta and attended Bible School where the kids learned action/movement to the songs, which were all very up-beat (Up With People kinda' things). My other son, Michael, showed the typical reaction when asked later to perform, but Tris?.........Whoa!!!!! Each kid had their own tape and we listened to the same 6 songs almost all the way home. We were all crazy, but Tris had the best long drive of his life! Dancin' in the seat, singin' along as best he could, and those hands were a FLYIN'!!!!!!!!!

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: KT
Date: 02 May 00 - 11:40 PM

What a wonderful thread!! I work in a special needs preschool and music is a part of our daily routine. Recently we all made banjos out of paper plates, cardboard and rubber bands! What a jam we had!! I am always looking for more ways to include music so keep those ideas flowing!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Llanfair
Date: 03 May 00 - 03:08 AM

I'm amazed that so many people here have experience of adults who have learning disabilities. I retired last year (voluntarily, I'm only 52) after spending 25 years working in all aspects of services in this area. It was field Social Work that burnt me out, finally, trying to find services for people when there was no money, and not being allowed to do it myself!!!!
Any information all you people may have about Advocacy would be welcome, as that is the only thing I have continued, and I need to start thinking about specialising. Thanks in advance, Bron.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 May 00 - 05:08 AM

Llanfair - I know how you fell. I was in a Social Services department for 20 years, and got out with the same feelings.

For Advocacy, the link I gave you is a good one. So is Values into Action, which is a bit more local - it used to be CMH, but changed its name, for the kind of reasons that came up in the thread. VIA have contacts with just about anything that's going on that's relevant and useful.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Musicman
Date: 03 May 00 - 12:18 PM

Isn't it wonderful..... and the best thing is that I do this sort of stuff for a living!! I work as a Music Therapist, mostly in a Hospital setting now, but have worked with all populations of special needs individuals.. You can find a past discussion here on music therapy.
I have seen many, many times in my work where music becomes the motivation factor in someone's life and has provided the catalyst to make a change in their life. As Clive Robbins states (a giant in the Music therapy field): "Music cannot normalize, but what we can do is reach that part of the child (individual) and help them to unfold a be a part of the world around them" We can use music to teach physical skills, social skills, communication skills..... it can be used for emotional expression (we do that all the time, right?) and a myrid of other things as well.

I've seen kids 2-3 years old try movements they've never done before while their moms watch with eyes wide open, because they like the sound of the music..... motivation!!

Keep up the good work, Marion. There is lots of information out there to help as well. Check with your local library or university music dept for journals/books on Music therapy. There is a big rescource there to be used....

Musicman


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Jacob B
Date: 03 May 00 - 05:53 PM

Thanks for the connection to the Music Therapy thread, Musicman. I've been reading it at work, and hoping that anyone who noticed me wiping my eyes and blowing my nose thought that I was doing it because of allergies.

Whether we work with the mentally handicapped or not, whether we play music or not, we all have many opportunities each day to perform little miracles. Sometimes, we recognize them for being miracles, and it amazes us.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Marion
Date: 05 May 00 - 05:36 PM

Thanks for responding, everyone!

KT: here's another possible idea for you, if you play a guitar or another instrument that this could apply to. I often play "cooperative guitar" with Maggie, one of the folks here at L'Arche. She doesn't sing, but there are clearly some songs that are her favourites. What we do is sit facing each other; I hold the guitar and fret the chords to one of her favourite songs, and she does the strumming. If she stops strumming, I stop singing, then continue the song when she starts again (my idea is that this will give her incentive to keep the rhythm up, as well as give her the sense that she is doing the singing: although it's my voice, it only comes out in direct response to her actions).

My little nieces and nephews enjoy cooperative guitar as well.

McGrath: Tell you more about L'Arche? What do you want to know? Our community's homepage is www.larchecapebreton.com (and anybody! If you're coming to Cape Breton, do drop by - we're close to the TransCanada - and bring your instruments.)

Thanks for making me think harder about nomenclature. Your philosophy makes sense to me: that attitude is more important than terminology, but since you have to use terms you should try to use the most acceptable one to the people most directly affected. I wouldn't call somebody Dave if it was evident that he preferred David - but in the absence of such evidence, I assume that there's nothing offensive about Dave. I thought that "mentally handicapped" was as generally acceptable as Dave, but if you say that's not so I'll have to investigate further.

I just checked L'Arche's constitution and the term there is "mentally challenged". Here at L'Arche Cape Breton we call the people in question "core members" in theory and "folks" in practice.

Musicman: thanks for the music therapy link. I had read it in the past and I imagined that when I had been at L'Arche this long, I would be adding to that thread and saying wise things about how my musical life was affecting the folks. Instead, I had to start a new thread about how the folks' musical life was affecting me.

This brings me to lessons number 5 and 6 that I didn't have time to write up last time.

5. I have learned something about what a music therapist is. Let me tell you about Eric, another assistant here who sings and plays guitar and bodhran. As much fun as my jams with the folks are, it's a whole other world when he's around. My muse makes me dance and play and sing - and those who are so inclined join in with me - but his muse makes everybody in the place dance and play and sing. He has a great gift for passing around the shakers and harmonicas and whistles and spoons and getting everybody involved, and you can feel the party ending when Eric has to leave. But he just laughed when I told him he should be a music therapist - the thing is that he can't read a note, doesn't know what makes a major chord different from a minor chord, and didn't know that chords tend to come in 1-4-5-6minor combinations until I told him. In the past I've looked at a few school's music therapy programs, and you had to be accepted as a degree student in music (meaning some level of expertise on a classical instrument) and then you could specialize in music therapy if you had finished certain grades in piano and guitar. So in spite of his social gifts and intuitive handle on music, I don't think he'll be getting into any music therapy program anytime soon. Three chords, the truth, and the right kind of beer moistening your bodhran won't cut it.

I suppose if he really wanted he could learn to read, learn classical piano and guitar, and learn theory to become an official music therapist. But I think that he already is a music therapist - that three chords, a bit of love, and a bit of Guinness can be just as powerful as highly informed and skilled music.

And I think of myself - I don't have Eric's social gifts or his ability to play spontaneously by ear (which I'm sure would be very helpful to a music therapist), but I like to think that I have done a little good in people's lives with my musical efforts. Besides Maggie and the other L'Archeniks that I play with now, I have often taken my instruments to the homes of elderly/shut-in people to bring them some cheer. My father died in January, and his last few weeks were divided between extreme confusion and a coma; I sang his favourites to him for hours, and at other times put on a tape of himself leading a sing-a-long at a local nursing home (something he did faithfully for over twenty years. Actually I learned a lot about the power of music from my father - but that's another post).

So can I call myself an unofficial music therapist? And do I have any hope of becoming an official music therapist? I wonder if the two schools I looked at were bad examples and you don't really have to be a highly skilled classical musician to get into a music therapy program.

5. I have learned that I don't really want to be the best musician around. Eric is leaving in a couple of weeks, and besides being sad at the departure of a friend I find that I am not looking forward to having to do without him musically. At community events, he plays the guitar and I play the fiddle - but when he's gone I'll have to play the guitar myself, because the guitar is necessary and the fiddle is a luxury for our purposes, even though my heart is more in the fiddle. Also, I will miss having a superior musician around to teach and inspire me and force me to keep broadening my horizons.

Mudcatters, forget my invitation to come visit - instead I want you to come move in here!

Marion


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 00 - 06:20 PM

"Attitude is more important than terminology, but since you have to use terms you should try to use the most acceptable one to the people most directly affected."

Marion, you have just summed up in a sentence the simple and straightforward truth about a debate that grinds on endlessly in all kinds of places, and gets people hot under the collar.

You wouldn't like to do the same thing with the Mudcat's perennial "What is Folk?" discussion would you? No, better not. It's one of the rituals that keeps this place going.

The Cape Breton l'Arche website is great, and it's in my favourites now, and I'll stick a link to it on my own website. Only thing missing is a set of links to other l'Arche sites. And maybe a sound file of you and Eric and Maggie and company...

The kind of nonsense you mentioned about "music therapy" is familiar enough. You get the same sort of thing around all kinds of "therapies", totally inappropriate professionalisation. Ivan Illich wrote some very insightful stuff about this kind of thing. So has Jean Vanier in another way.

(Jean Vanier related story: we once had a friend who was a nurse, with a great gift for getting enthusiastic about new ways of seeing the world - and one day we met her and she said she'd come across this great woman writer called Jean Vanier. We tactfully told her it was the French type of Jean, and that he was a man...)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Sorcha
Date: 05 May 00 - 06:32 PM

If I upset/offended anyone by my seemingly fatecious remark concerning labels above, I am sincerely sorry....that was not my intention. It is just that the preferred politically correct term seems to change by the hour; I never know what to refer to anything as anymore, and I am just sick of it. Of COURSE I don't want to offend anyone, and would never do it on purpose. Too many words mean too many things, especially in English, and very few actually convey what is really meant. "Challenged" is one of my big pet peeves---I am "vertically challenged" and "mammarily challenged"---duh?
It has always seemed to me that the best word is "retarded"........mental development in some people is retarded, in the dictionary sense of the word; I do not use it as a slam, but as a descriptive term. If some of those affected do not like it, and I know that, I would not use it.
What about girl/woman/female/person; boy/guy/man/person, etc?
Whoops, sorry, PC just really gets me going, somebody come get this soapbox!! And Marion, what a lovely thing you are doing!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 00 - 07:05 PM

"If some of those affected do not like it, and I know that, I would not use it"

I've never met anyone with leartning diffulties, or any relative of a person with learning disabilities who doesn't hate the term "retarded".

"Nigger" was also in its time a straightforward descriptive term without any insulting implications. "Yid" is just the Yiddish for Jew. But these words have been used too often as insults, and in a context where people have been treated as less than human - they are no longer usable. And the same goes for "retarded" - it has the same impact on people as "Nigger" or "Yid"does.

I'm writing this in England. Maybe in America it's different - words can have different meanings and implications in different places.

As Marion put it so succinctly: "Attitude is more important than terminology, but since you have to use terms you should try to use the most acceptable one to the people most directly affected."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Sorcha
Date: 06 May 00 - 12:51 AM

Yes, McGrath, you are right. Of course you are, and so is Marion. I am deaf/hearing impaired/challenged. I really don't care what you call me, as long as it is not deaf and dumb..........I do not try or mean to hurt---whatever anyone wants to be called as a descriptive terminology is fine with me, but we need some way of commonly defining what problem we are talking about. Learning disabled is just too broad a term, and I am just fed up with the CORRECT terminology changing every day. I know what labels do, and what they mean; we have a son who is definitely Learning Disabled, and Visually Challenged, but is not mentally deficient in any way, ADD works for us-----(Attention Deficit Disorder), why couldn't we keep it? No, now we have to say HAAD, (Hyper active attention disorder, or has it changed today?) Whatever here, I don't think my point is coming across well. Try one more time---which is better, according to whom?>BR> Golden Ager
Senior Citizen
Elderly
Old Person
Geriatric
Chronically Challenged
All are offensive to some, some are offensive to none......Labels suck, but we have to have some common frame of reference, and I just can't keep up with what is "OK"........


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: KT
Date: 06 May 00 - 03:54 AM

Thanks for the suggestion, Marion. Yes, I do play guitar, and "cooperative guitar" is a regular and favorite part of our music time. Except my charges are so little that they can sit in my lap and use the correct positioning for strumming. Participation for some may mean feeling the vibrations as the guitar is being played, and of course......smiling.......

Musicman, thanks for the link. I am another who would like formal training in music therapy, but have been intimidated by the classical training requirement...

Regarding labels....I have a friend who uses the term "differently abled." While it doesn't "define" it certainly honors the individual. I like that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 May 00 - 06:56 AM

"We need some way of commonly defining what problem we are talking about."

The problem we are talking about is people being discriminated against and excluded because they are different.

The only reason labels are problematic is because they are used in the context of this kind of dicrimination. "Quaker" and "Methodist" both started out as intentionally insulting labels. "Cretin" started out as a supportive label.

Learning disability seems, for the present a reasonably satisfactory label, insofar as any label at all is appropriate or necessary, which it very rarely is. The fact that it covers an enormously wide range of abilities and disabilities is ok. It makes it harder to use as an insult. "Label jars, not people."

The relevant question about an individual should never be "do they fall into this pre-determined category?" but "what needs to be done in order to make sure that this person can get by?" And much of the time when you ask it that way, it's not so much the person that needs to change, it's the people and things around them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: TerriM
Date: 06 May 00 - 08:16 AM

And a loud amen to that one,Kevin! I accept there has to be some sort of terminology when you are talking to people unaffected by whatever condition is under discussion as a term of reference but actually the very terms used often mitigate against understanding because the terms of reference are not common to both parties. I have often been referred someone who has "challenging behaviour" to find that they just get angry sometimes, just, in fact, like anyone else.These terms are bandied around professional circles like they mean something when in fact they are simply a good opt out from saying' I don't understand whats going on with this person,' ( the accent should be on person).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: KT
Date: 06 May 00 - 01:35 PM

A point of clarification....the individual I referred to who uses the term "differently abled" is a recreation therapist....He works with all kinds of people with all kinds of abilities....His point is that we ALL have different gifts and abilities.....His focus is NOT on defining conditions....It IS on honoring the gifts each one brings.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 May 00 - 02:29 PM

This has been very interesting. There is another thread Descriptive terms. etc, that covers the same ground as this one now seems to have moved on to.

What this thread seems to be confirming to me, is that, THEY (which ever term you prefer) are pretty much the same as WE are. Using music to express feelings, with the same enthusiasm. Not only music but drama, dance, visual arts and more.

Is that really such a surprise?

What happens to us as we grow up, that the society we form part of, generally views this process as in someway, remarkable or strange, in anyone else but children?

As children we sing, paint, act and dance, quite naturally. We then seem to reach a point where we feel there is a choice to be made and that we have to make it. A choice to leave the singing, painting, acting and dancing to just those individuals who show great skills in these areas.

We don't think we have a choice not to use other skills, like arithmetic and grammar, or leave them to those who are particularly good at them? We may leave Quantum Physics to the Einsteins but we still continue to conduct lesser calculations ourselves.

Is this approach an inevitable part of growing up or more a result of our experiences in those institutions of learning, we call schools? Institutions that reinforce the view that a vital part of all of our individual make-up, is in some way optional?

I believe, in truth that this view is changing, but that the damage has been done.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 May 00 - 11:43 AM

"A choice to leave the singing, painting, acting and dancing to just those individuals who show great skills in these areas."

Maybe that's what's really different about folkies - because most of us refuse to make that choice, at least so far as singing and dancing and playing instruments. That's the reality that underlies all our milling around each other arguing about "what is folk".

One of my favourite quotes is by G.K.CHesterton. "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."

"I'm a terrible clumsy walker - I'll just sit down instead... And I'm a very inelegant eater, I'm not having any more meals...And as for the way I breathe..."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: catspaw49
Date: 07 May 00 - 12:15 PM

Yes indeed. Good point made there Roger. And Kevin, I like the Chesterton quote. We put way too much emphasis on ability/talent and not nearly enough on joy.

Spaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Jacob B
Date: 08 May 00 - 10:16 AM

So G.K. Chesterton also said that line? I invented it independently, a couple of decades ago. And I'll add another thought on the subject:

"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly" is not the opposite of "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." They both are corollaries of the basic principle that anything worth doing is worth doing for its own sake, whether you do it well or badly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 May 00 - 11:03 AM

Thank you all. That's it. Thanks.
yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 May 00 - 07:39 PM

Here's a story a friend told me that fits in here, though it's not about music.

She was sitting in the town centre by the fountain with her son. Now, her son is in his thirties, and he's got epilepsy, and he can't talk too well, and he is pretty unsteady on his feet, and so on.

And there were a couple of well dressed young men - visitors to the town by the look of them - and they were were sitting nearby, and after a while she noticed that they were looking at her son, and imitating some of the things he said, and giggling.

And also nearby there was a pretty rough looking skinhead, rings in the nose and tattoos, and that kind of stuff, and big boots. And he was listening to what was going on. And then he gets up and he walks over to the jokers, and looks hard at them and tells them to "push off" - except he didn't exactly say "push off". And they pushed off quite rapidly.

And then he goes over to my friend's son, and shook his hands and said "You're all right mate!" And he marched off.

As my friend said "It makes you proud sometimes to live in Harlow!"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 May 00 - 07:49 PM

And here's another story, which goes back to the time I was in a l'Arche Community for a few months many years ago.

It was dinner time, which was a big communal thing, sitting round a big table. One of the high points of the day.

Well, the pudding came around. And there was some mix-up, because a couple of people were serving, and I found myself with two helpings in front of me. And I was just looking down at them with a pleased surprised expression on my face, I suppose. And a helper swooped down and took one of the helpings away.

Well, I didn't really mind, though it was a good pudding. But I must have shown a flicker of dismay, because one of the core members of the community, who'd spent many years in a subnormality hospital (that's another of the charming terms they used to label people with), was watching me. And he came over, and he touched my hand and said "Never mind" (which was a long sentence for him) - and slipped two cigarettes in my breast pocket.

So often people talk as if being sensitive to other people, and aware of how they might be feeling is something that's associated with being clever and competent and so forth. And it's so far from being true it's laughable.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Marion
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 10:59 AM

McGrath, I just remembered that I never got back to you on this tread. Sorry.

A link for L'Arche Canada is www.larchecanada.org If you click on "Contact us", you will be offered lists of L'Arche communities, with their websites if they have them.

In a vision meeting our leader talked a bit about terminology. She said the the most important things were to resist the temptation to call adults boys and girls, and whichever term you use to describe the disability, you should put the person first (i.e. a man with a mental handicap, not a mentally handicapped man).

Marion


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 08:28 PM

Glad to see you back around the threads, Marion.

The crucial thing with words like boys and girls is that the same ones apply for people whether they've got any kind of a disability or not.

So I'll admit to referring to my son, who hasn't got a disability, as a boy, even though he's only a couple of years younger than my daughter (who was 34 today); and I find it more natural to refer to her, and to the care workers who share her life, as "girls" rather than "women".

But I'm strongly against any way of talking about her as if she was a child, and I've often got into arguments about that wit other parents. Of course the thing is there is an ambiguity about the word because although your son and your daughter will cease to be "a child" omce they are past a certain age, they will always be properly described as "your children" until the day you die, even if they win a Nobel pPrize.

And it's always "people first", and everything else a long way behind.

Thanks for the l'Arche links. Here's a link with lots of interesting stuff, and other links. Since it's Canadian you'll likely have come across them already.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: Night Owl
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 10:43 PM

Marion....thanks for initiating this conversation....and the L'Arche links. McGrath....fascinating website, thanks as well!!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: GUEST,Anita
Date: 25 Oct 10 - 04:46 PM

Can anyone remember the name of the severely disabled young man who learned to play the piano and sing...He was blind and deaf...was raised by an older couple...i first saw him on TV many years ago


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 09:32 AM

" I'm getting used to playing guitar under the intense scrutiny of the guitar-smashing gentleman I mentioned above, and taking it coolly when he escapes his assistant's attention and comes and takes a swipe at me."

Ten years have passed since that was written (first post.) I think we can safely say that the sound of the guitar was driving the poor guy nuts -- because we know now that autistic people do not hear things the way most people do.

============
Sorry, Anita, I don't know the answer to your question.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: LadyJean
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 12:40 AM

I have a learning disability. I was diagnosed when I was 8. I have spent most of my adult life explaining that I do know how to read and I am more than a little intelligent. My handwriting is atrocious. Correct English spelling is a bit difficult for me. I do best with numbers if I talk to myself. (Which means I don't test well.) I am not well coordinated, and wise enough to know I should never dance. Unfortunately I love it, and I dance any time I have the opportunity. I was even a Scottish highland dancer for a while. (My old teacher says, "You tried".)

I did Delcatto therapy as a child. Part of the treatment was no music. I'm always glad my parents couldn't really do that to me. I had to crawl around on the floor, with no music, though music would have made that exercise in futility bearable. But otherwise, I could enjoy a tune when I heard it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Music and the mentally handicapped
From: mattkeen
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 04:57 AM

Music therapy is very different to music just being therapuetic - that includes the playing of it.

In the late 90's and early noughties I was the Operations Director for a charity that specialised in enabling physically disabled people to play music through technology
Drake Music Project


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 17 October 7:04 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.