Michael Lisle Dunn

Musical Access

Since 1994 I (Michael Dunn) have had the pleasure of working with a small number of individuals with Learning Disabilities, helping them to acquire skills on musical instruments. I fell into this work by accident - I am a Composer/Songwriter, and to bolster my meagre income in the past I have done various other jobs, including working as a care assistant at a home for adults with learning difficulties, which is how I met the people described here, and how I came to be asked to make music with them. In that time I learnt far more than I ever expected about both their, and my own, musical learning processes. I deliberately do not refer to this as music therapy, firstly because I am not a qualified musical therapist, and secondly because that term implies applying something (i.e. 'therapy' ) onto someone else. My dictionary defines 'therapy' as 'curative medical treatment' - I do not aim to 'cure' those people I work with, but I do hope to provide them with access to the acquisition of something that many take for granted, yet that some are often denied; namely the skill to play a musical instrument, to whatever level, so that they may experience the spiritual, physical and emotional benefits that making music brings. Hence the term Musical Access.

By definition, the terms 'Teaching' and 'Learning Disabilities' do not go well together, yet I have seen that very great things are achievable, but in very small increments, and over a long period of time….