I’m prompted by the manager of an artist who has recorded a song about his nephew who has Asberger’s Syndrome. The artist is Errol Sammut and the song, Burton’s Song is being used to raise awareness about autism via a number of charities and notably The Marigold Foundation.
Autism and music has been the subject of many scholarly articles and the power of music to unlock individuals from the spectrum of conditions that limits them is well documented. To expand that last statement, the power of music to unlock us from life-circumstances that overwhelm us is well known to us all.
Music to chill to, music to soothe, music to energise, music to inspire all fall within a phenomenon that we in the simplest way take for granted but were the music to be ‘switched off’, our world would be more different than we could begin to imagine.
Why not then, consider the reverse, that a person, and in the terms of this blog, an autistic person, into whose world music enters can be radically different. Indeed for the duration of their engagement with music, an autistic person’s world can be completely transformed.
All musicians use their talents to open up new worlds: this is fundamental to being a creative artist. Many musicians have also received training as for example music therapists to use music in a clinical context. Other musicians see the value of their skills as a community or educational resource, working to animate or facilitate.
The conductor John Lubbock whose youngest son has an autism diagnosis, takes players from the Orchestra of St John’s (founded by Lubbock 5 decades ago) into special schools for around 40 days a year. The stories of communication, achievement and even interaction are certainly numerous, often confounding and simply glorious.
Such is the power of music.