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Music project hits the right notes in Lowestoft

PUBLISHED: 14:00 03 June 2016

The launch of the Music Man Project at the Unity Centre run by Lowestoft & District MENCAP. Picture: Andrew J Guyton.

The launch of the Music Man Project at the Unity Centre run by Lowestoft & District MENCAP. Picture: Andrew J Guyton.

Andrew J Guyton

The Lowestoft and District Mencap Society have launched a new music project to help people with learning disabilities participate in a number of interactive sessions.

The ultimate aim of the weekly Music Man Project is to allow the people involved to join in with a special performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London, two years from now.

The project is the UK’s first full-time music education service specifically for people with a learning disability.

It was started in Southend by deputy headteacher David Stanley.

The project has now been rolled out to the Unity Centre, on Milton Road East, which provides a meeting place for people with mild or moderate learning difficulties.

Every Wednesday, from 1.30pm until 3.30pm, the adult members gather to play instruments, including shakers, bongos and drums.

In the evening, between 7pm and 9pm, young people aged between nine and 25 also have the chance to participate in the initiative.

And at a recent launch event, attended by Bruce Provan – chairman of Waveney District Council – people came together to join in with some well-known songs including We Will Rock You and Livin’ On A Prayer.

The equipment used in the project was purchased through a recent lottery grant of £9,980 and aims to improve co-ordination and team working skills – as well as reducing isolation.

Jac Guyton, chairman of Lowestoft and District Mencap, said: “It gives them confidence and allows them to be a part of something.

“A lot of them can’t read or write but this is something they can do even if they haven’t got a lot of rhythm.

“It is hard to put into words just how amazing this project is. We are just overwhelmed with how happy everyone is – they can’t wait to come back each week.”

Recently, The Music Man Project made its West End debut at the London Palladium featuring almost 200 performers with learning disabilities.

Mr Stanley said: “We are delighted to welcome Lowestoft Mencap to our network. I especially look forward to introducing their staff and service users to our musical repertoire so they can join other musicals from Essex and Sussex in our large-scale joint musical performances.”

Ben Hollingworth, vice-chairman of Lowestoft and District Mencap, added: “Music is an amazing thing that they all take to really well and can join in with.”

The group are also on the lookout for someone who can play the piano and read music to attend the group each week on a voluntary basis.

For more information, or if you can help, email theunitycentre@hotmail.com or call 01502 539810.

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