A message from John Delany, Senior Counselling Manager at the Insight Counselling Service
At the beginning of this year I was approached by Peter Gorey, a long-standing member of Fighting Blindness, about the possibility of promoting the role of music to enhance the lives of people with a visual impairment. Whilst Peter was unclear at that point as to how precisely this could be achieved, I was nonetheless impressed by his desire to make a difference in people’s lives and agreed to work with him on developing the idea.
As luck would have it a few days later an interesting e-mail appeared in my inbox advertising a forthcoming conference on the lives of visually impaired musicians. It was organised by Dr David Baker of University College London. Peter and I felt that the conference programme spoke to the very heart of his idea and so last March we spent two very enjoyable and highly informative days amongst nearly 200 delegates, speakers and performers from all over the world. We formed an enthusiastic global community exploring the ways in which visually impaired musicians learn and perform their craft and the enriching effect of music on their lives both as performers and individuals.
One of the highlights of the conference was a presentation by the Filomen M. D’Agostino from the Greenberg Music School at the Lighthouse Guild, New York, which focused on their experience of teaching young people and adults with sight loss. This world renowned school, now in its second centennial, has developed a rich tradition and unique expertise in music tuition for the visually impaired.
We learned that for young people experiencing vision loss, developing their musical skills has a positive impact on all aspects of life both personal and academic. For adult students acquiring or retaining existing musical skills is important in terms of maintaining quality of life and underscores the value of life long learning.
The school’s ethos emphasises the enrichment through life long musical experience and points to the fact that strong arts education programmes can be linked to improved student motivation, social and community participation and the development of critical and reflective thinking amongst other benefits.
Peter was highly impressed by the work of the school and concluded that a pilot music tuition project based on the New York model would be the best way to develop his initial idea. I am pleased to announce that Fighting Blindness has agreed to provide support for this exciting project as it aligns with our policy to expand the suite of services available at Insight Counselling. Based at our Ely Place offices, the pilot programme will run over an initial twelve week period on Saturdays commencing in June 2015. If successful we hope to offer this facility to as wide an audience as possible in the future.
If you have an idea that you think might improve the lives of people with a visual impairment I would welcome hearing from you. Peter Gorey has shown that one person can make a big difference.
Not a man to rest on his laurels Peter Gorey is planning to establish a choir for people with vision loss. The choir will meet in a Dublin city centre location on Saturday mornings commencing in September next. There will be a membership fee of €60 for twelve weeks to cover costs including professional tuition. So, if you are interested in joining this exciting new venture or would like to have a conversation about that possibility why not phonePeter on 086 815 0145. He’s waiting to hear from you!