A band run for people with learning disabilities
Starshine was established in 1999 and has continued to run for the past 12 years without interruption. Starshine is a music group for adults with learning disabilities which meet every week. The songs are chosen by group members and they regularly organise concerts, usually near Christmas and at the end of the summer.
Why is Starshine important?
Music is often described as the language of emotion and it has considerable power to change lives. Music making gives people a big sense of enjoyment and achievement. It allows people to express themselves in different ways, make connections with other people and allows them to explore more of themselves and reach their full potential (MENCAP 2009).
People with learning disabilities are unique individuals, like everyone else. Music making can provide an opportunity to discover more about ourselves. People with learning disabilities are marginalised by society and don’t have the same choice and control over their own lives, as many of us do. Making music can allow them the opportunities to play an instrument, have freedom, choice, expression, aspiration and achievement. It can be a really important aspect of their lives (MENCAP 2009).
Most people enjoy music just for the fun of it, so people with learning disabilities should be treated the same. Music therapy is not always necessary just because you have a learning disability. As an occupational therapist running the groups I aim to incorporate my professional knowledge and break tasks down into easily achieveable steps, supporting people to try new things, giving people the chance to be creative and explore occupations they may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in. As we tend to have mildly affected members in the Starshine group, I aim to enable them to shape and lead aspects of the sessions, as they gain confidence and familiarity.
As national statutory provision decreases, due to budget constraints- projects like Starshine offer an important and vital opportunity for people with learning disabilities to access leisure, learning and work opportunities.
In 2002, the Starshine Group won the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) group award.
MENCAP (2009) Music and people with a learning disability- A guide for music leaders. London: MENCAP. Available From: www.mencap.org.uk