Music belongs to everyone
During the spring 2022, the Kuopio Conservatory and Savo Vocational College (SAKKY) had a so-called OLVI collaborative project going on, in which students with intellectual disabilities in TELMA education were offered weekly music workshop classes. The project was funded by the OLVI Foundation.
The ALIISA project had connection with this OLVI Project in such a way that a SAKKY employee also participated in ALIISA's continuing education and did his internship in this OLVI project. I myself worked in the project as a music pedagogue, representing Kuopio Conservatory. ALIISA project was co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
TELMA training is a vocational training organized as a special support that prepares students for work and independent living. It is aimed for students who, due to a disability or illness, need special support, as well as teaching and guidance in accordance with personal goals and capabilities. However, their education does not include the teaching of music, although its diverse benefits cannot be denied in the light of current brain research. In between, I will quote brain researcher Minna Huotilainen, according to which "Music and related education should be considered a fundamental human right" (Huotilainen 2009, 46).
The collaborative music workshop project between Kuopio Conservatory and SAKKY was funded by the OLVI Foundation, which, according to its rules, assists activities for the benefit of children and the elderly, studies for talented young people and improves the conditions for postgraduate studies. In addition, the OLVI Foundation assists local work and supports and promotes the development of the use of natural resources and the food economy, which includes the development of fish and agriculture as an essential part. With the help of regular music workshop activities, we wanted to promote the musical competence of students with demanding special support. When playing music together, the focus is on listening and taking others into account. When working in a group, young people experience a sense of inclusion and ability: I can and am part of something bigger. This also reinforces the sense of community.
Everything is adaptable to the student's skill level. We utilized technology and used e.g. iPad-assisted color-enabled finger instruments in the group, which was a completely new device for me. Finger instruments made it possible for everyone to participate if they wished, even if there were no other instruments in the room, thus the teaching facilities were not related to wheather there are musical instruments in the room or not. Recording the playing and singing seemed to be really meaningful to the students and brought them great joy. The activity left a concrete memory trace that can be returned later in life. Such feelings of ability and success can promote the desire to apply for music education.
With this project, we wanted to emphasize the notion that regular music activities strengthen students' learning motivation and everyday skills. The students really seemed to look forward to the lessons and participated in them with a good mood. The music workshop activities were visibly exciting and it was also visible in the students' daily lives, as some of them practiced common songs outside of class. Making music encouraged them to work on persistently. As I mentioned earlier, listening to others is emphasized when making music together, which is also one of the most important skills in a person's everyday life.
The counselors and teachers of young people who require special support seemed to have a strong understanding of what each student could or could not do. With music, I think such notions can be broken, because everything is applicable and the only limit here is really the imagination. Assumptions should not prevent the student from trying something new, because everything can be adapted to the student's skill level. This adaptation is made possible by professional and innovative music teachers.
Singer, composer, performing artist
Music pedagogue student at Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Huotilainen, Minna 2009: Musiikki ja oppiminen aivotutkimuksen valossa julkaisussa
Taide ja taito - kiinni elämässä! : TaiTai taide- ja taitokasvatus. Moniste/
Opetushallitus, Opetushallitus, Helsinki, Sivut 40-48. https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/309154/49220_taide_ja_taito.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y