By Cecily Morrison
The Amber Trust is a charity set up to fund and support music for blind and partially sighted babies and children. Their tag line is that music is a life line, not a past time. They fund instruments and music lessons, as well as provide advice from engaging a blind baby with music to the complications of getting braille music arranged.
Eighteen months ago I very tentatively sent an email to the Amber Trust lead, Professor Adam Ockelford. I asked him what should I do with my child who sang constantly, had taught himself to play piano, but was totally blind, had no speech, and could barely balance on the piano stool. Regardless of his evident talent, it was clear that no “regular” piano teacher was going to be up for our strong minded, mischievous musician.
I was truly amazed the first time I saw Adam and Ronan play together – improvising across Ronan’s favourite nursery songs. Ronan could communicate and engage with someone in a way that we’d not seen before. Adam has showed us how to use music to help Ronan reach out to the world at large. With his 30+ years of working with blind children, Adam has a bread of knowledge about blind children that is so rare in the mainstream environment that our children are most often in.
I will be speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Appeal on 18 December to raise money to enable the Amber Trust to fund music therapy for blind babies across the UK.