New Christchurch Symphony Orchestra initiative reaching out to those with intellectual disabilities

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra is on a mission to give those living with intellectual disabilities access to live music.

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The interactive programme aims to break down barriers and provide a hands-on experience some have never had before. Source: 1 NEWS

Its new interactive programme, called One True Note, provides community groups a hands-on performance with world-class musicians.

For 65-year-old Bruce Lennon, it was his first time having a go at the trumpet, oboe and violin.

He’s not alone.

Most people who attend these sessions have never played an instrument, and often have barriers to accessing live music.

CEO Gretchen La Roche says the programme is a great way of bringing people together.

“It's a great way of connecting with each other and I think it’s really important that as the orchestra for the city, that we're looking for as many ways as possible to make sure that can happen for all of our communities. Everybody has the right to experience music and we want to share that with as many people as possible.”

Those communities include the Chris Ruth Centre, which cares for people 21 years and over with intellectual disabilities.

Live music for them is a rarity.

“It's absolutely fantastic. Some of our guys are nonverbal so their language would be music,” says Caroline Spollen from the Chris Ruth Centre.

“Our guys just absolutely love music. It just brings out the happiness in them, and just being able to be introduced to wonderful music is just fantastic."

The 35-minute sessions are held in the Ron Ball Studio in Christchurch’s Town Hall, the rehearsal space for the CSO.

Some of the musicians who help with the programme say it's a rewarding part of their job.

"Music is everywhere and it's for everyone and it's lovely that we can do this. There's no kind of barriers up when you're playing music - you just get to perform," says principal viola player Serenity Thurlow.

"You don't need to be able to talk to one another to kind of communicate how you're feeling on a particular day. It's really special."

Debbie Ward from CCS Disability Action says it's a good initiative from the orchestra to be thinking about the needs of young children and adults with learning disabilities.

"The opportunity that it could bring for people that might have musical talents themselves and didn't know or may have had an interest, and just being able to touch and feel an instrument that they may have dreamt of wanting to play one day, is a great opportunity."

Learning support groups, day centres, schools and other organisations from around Christchurch will take part in the free programme over the next month.