A magical morning for Meath! by Pat Robinson, Meath School

Meath children had a very special treat on 13 December – a visit from 7 members of the London Chamber Orchestra, famous for taking part in the Royal Wedding earlier this year. We had arranged with Caroline Welsh, working with the LCO, to organise activities, throughout the morning, to introduce the children to the instruments, to listen to music and to interact with the musicians by conducting them! For children with severe and complex speech, language and communication difficulties it can be such a struggle to use interaction and communication to make an impact. It was a complete joy to watch their faces as they realised that by signing ‘stop’ and ‘go’ they were in control, they were engaged in a musical interaction with each musician which was making a difference to what was being played! Some children bounced up with great confidence to the musician they were conducting; others wanted to take part but needed a helping hand to overcome their shyness.

All the staff have tremendous admiration for the musicians who responded so positively to our children; sometimes they barely played a note before a child enthusiastically signed ‘stop!’ Just chance to draw a breath before their conductor signed ‘Go!’  The children were so engaged and motivated to listen to and interact with the musicians and as they engaged with their musicians they became more thoughtful about how long they wanted them to play. They listened attentively to the complete piece of music and it was impressive to hear them talk about the instruments and notice how they were played, what they were made of and even naming some of them or getting close to it! I will forever remember the double bass being called ……’a double bed!’ and the cello being described as ‘ a big violin’.

The children’s faces and their attentiveness were testimony to how much they enjoyed the occasion. I noticed certain children who are usually quite active sitting quietly with rapt expressions and big smiles. Staff described the sessions as outstanding, wonderful, a joy and a very special activity for the end of the term. We are so, so grateful to Martin Lovegrove, chairman of Meath Governors and chairman of the LCO for organising the visit to the school and the day ended on a wonderful note with a performance by the LCO in Ottershaw church to raise money for Meath School, beginning the performance by accompanying Meath children singing and signing a Christmas carol. Magical memories indeed!