Otakar Kraus Music Trust
Music therapy helps children with additional needs
The Axis Foundation’s donation of £8,000 to The Otakar Kraus Music Trust (OKMT) enables seven pupils to attend OK Music School. Here qualified music therapists teach children and young people with physical, learning, mental or neurological disability or illness.
“We are delighted that the Axis Foundation has approved our application to enable seven pupils with disabilities to attend OK Music School for 36 weeks. This will make a huge difference to our music therapy work and allow more children to enjoy the benefits of learning and performing music. Music therapy helps children with disabilities when nothing else can reach them” – Valerie Roy, Fundraising Manager, OKMT
Whilst at the music therapy school, children interact and make friends, reducing isolation. They gain communication skills and become more confident. Improved listening skills and focus help their learning at school. And performing makes them feel happier, proud of their achievements and part of the community. Some children have passed Royal School of Music exams, and some have performed on national radio.
The children say:
‘It makes me feel good about myself – I can do something well!’
“I love music because it gives me confidence and it takes me away from the pressures of real life. I make more friends here than anywhere else”
“OK Music School has been amazing helping my daughter to gain confidence and improve her memory and listening skills. She is able to verbalise that she is proud of herself.”
“E has blossomed, she had very low self-esteem when we started as she was unable to attend school due to her severe anxieties. It has been a Godsend for her mental health.”
OK Music School Case Study
D is 8 and is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He struggles with interacting with people he doesn’t know and with some motor skills. He lacks concentration and has some language and communication difficulties. Therefore it is hard for him to take part in activities where he could enjoy time and space with his peers. D had received speech and language therapy and some music therapy.
But then his mother heard about OKMT through a London Autism group.
D started attending the OKMT Youth Choir, where he was silent for a few months until he finally joined in and started singing along. Then he joined OK Music school where he began to learn to play the piano. He thrived on the stable routine, and playing piano now provides him respite and happiness. His concentration and motor skills have improved, and he is now confident in a group of children and socially more aware of others. He took part in the Christmas concert in 2019 and played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano which gave him a great sense of achievement. His family were so proud and joyful to watch him playing in the concert in front of a big audience.
D said: “I feel happy and excited to attend my music lessons!”
LOCKDOWN UPDATE from Valerie Roy, Fundraising Manager, OKMT
“During lockdown our therapists were able to adapt to provide online OK Music School lessons for over half of the Music School pupils. These worked remarkably well and provided a positive activity with a familiar face, which helped reduce anxiety and isolation and improve the pupils’ mental well-being. We also provided pre-recorded videos for younger children with disabilities, our online Youth Choir and also online music therapy groups for adults with neurological conditions, mental health problems and for elderly people.
“We have now returned to face-to-face lessons for nearly all pupils, with social distancing, masks and increased cleaning. We will not be able to hold a Christmas concert this year (2020) but aim to record pupils at lessons performing pieces they have learned and then stream this online for parents and others as an alternative Christmas concert.”
OKMT Survey Results
OKMT recently asked parents what difference OK Music School was making to their child. The top survey results were:
- Increased their confidence and self-esteem 100%
- Improved their concentration and ability to follow instructions 79%
- Improved their mental well-being 74%
- Improved their listening skills 68%