The Music Man Project is the UK’s first full-time music education service specifically for children and adults with learning disabilities. It was founded in South Essex by former Deputy Head Teacher David Stanley to meet a growing demand from parents for regular and accessible musical opportunities for their children. His aim was to access the innate musicality in everyone, regardless of their learning difficulty or special educational need. David initially established a weekly music school in 2001 and then in 2012, shortly after qualifying as a Head Teacher, he left his mainstream secondary school post to launch a full-time specialist charitable provision. His approach centres on education, enjoyment and performance through the teaching of his original music at special schools, colleges, care homes, weekly music schools and daily adult classes in the community.
The Music Man Project now operates in Essex, Suffolk, Sussex, Medway/KENT, London (in partnership with the Royal College of Music), Northern Ireland and South Africa. Although delivery style and time frames may differ, The Music Man Project provides the same opportunities afforded to aspiring mainstream musicians by offering the best tuition, instruments, musical repertoire and performance platforms available. It delivers inspirational performances which raise awareness and challenge misconceptions, such as entertaining runners at the London Marathon, closing Royal Mencap’s first national conference in Liverpool, performing in concert at the Royal College of Music and presenting its own West End show at the world-famous London Palladium. The Music Man Project’s charity single topped the Amazon Broadway chart and the e-book, “Music is Magic: The Story of the Music Man Project” led the Amazon Kindle Special Education chart. It has been shortlisted to the final of the Music Teachers Awards for Excellence twice in the last three years (Best SEN Resource category) and has just won the 2016 Kids Count Inspiration Best Creative Contribution Award. The Music Man Project has been described as tremendous by the Prime Minister and outstanding by OFSTED.
The Music Man Project develops the musical instinct that lies within us all to instil confidence, self-esteem and as a vehicle for joy and emotional expression. Rather than focusing on their disability, all students are treated as musicians and Southend Mencap, the charity which runs the project, has only the highest aspirations for what can be achieved by everyone involved in this unique innovation. The musical outcomes are presented to the public in large-scale performances as a way of educating the wider society about what people with disabilities can do rather than what they need. David Stanley campaigns for equal opportunities for musicians with learning disabilities to perform at the most prestigious concert venues and high-profile events.