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Lisa Marie Hougton-Reade, development coordinator

WEEK 3: THE SWANS IN TRAINING

Lisa talks more in-depth about the training the Swans received before visiting Visually Impaired students at Priestly Smith Specialist School.

Date: 9 June 2021

The Swans in Training

Before embarking on this project with visually impaired (VI) students at Priestley Smith Specialist School, our players attended a Visual Impairment Awareness training session. The session was held by Professor Adam Ockelford from the University of Roehampton; a visually impaired musician himself with vast experience in the area.

“Adam set up The Amber Trust, which has a fascinating website with lots of videos of VI young people achieving amazing things musically.”

Adam set up The Amber Trust, which provides musical opportunities for blind and partially sighted children and children with more complex needs, via its Music Awards and Music Services. It has a fascinating website with lots of videos of VI young people achieving amazing things musically.  

Last season we were able to do the session face-to-face but this season with the Coronavirus restrictions, Adam did the training session via ZOOM.

Adam provided an insight for our sighted players into how best to approach instrumental teaching, language and access issues for children and young people who are unable to see the instrument they are holding clearly. 

To most VI people they will just see a blurred outline of the instrument  or a tiny pin prick of vision as if they were looking down a long, dark tunnel depending on their eye condition.

“To most VI people they will just see a blurred outline of the instrument or a tiny pin prick of vision, as if they were looking down a long, dark tunnel depending on their eye condition.”

Players learned not to leave items on the floor or to instruct pupils to sit in a particular place as they probably wouldn’t be able to see what they were being instructed to do.

At one point last season Adam blindfolded each of our musicians in turn and gave them an everyday item to identify by touch alone.  This offered them an insight into how the VI manage in everyday life. 

We may have lost the sense of sight, but our other senses will be heightened to ensure we can still find our way around and interact with others safely.  It was an interesting, stimulating and informative session which was enjoyed by all involved.

Next Week: Lisa meets the VI students

Read Last Week’s