Welcome readers to the first-ever OHMI blog post and to what I hope will be a long-running and enjoyable blog. I shall admit straight off the bat that I have never written a blog before, and am no expert in the subject of music-making. So, this blog will be as informative to me as it is to you.
The best place to start is, probably, by introducing myself. I am THE Amy who inspired my father, Stephen Hetherington, to form the OHMI Trust. My inability to play a musical instrument at school, due to hemiplegia (cerebral palsy affecting one side of the body), prompted my dad to set up a charity which would create one-handed musical instruments so that other disabled people could enjoy making music.
The charity has been running for nine years now, and we have, indeed, inspired many to create such instruments, including a one-handed recorder, clarinet and even bagpipes through the OHMI Competition. Now, OHMI has set up a teaching programme, called the OHMI Music-Makers, for children to learn these instruments. Now in my twenties, I'm afraid I've missed the boat for this particular programme, but I am so pleased that disabled children are now able to do something I never could. With this in mind, I decided to ask some of these kids (and their parents) about their music-making experiences. I met up with Colin and his son, Sean, who is learning to play the one-handed recorder. Sean has right-sided hemiplegia and has been learning the recorder since he was five. By all accounts, he is pretty good having played in several school concerts and even in a Christmas concert at the village hall where he played the Harry Potter theme tune, one of his favourite pieces. As a fellow Potterhead, I’m impressed!
“Sean has always enjoyed music and he’s actually able to play an instrument where he can get 100% involved. He’s really enjoying playing pieces with other children now too,” said dad, Colin. “So now, playing with the school recorder group where they have to stand on stage in front of a crowd of people – it’s been great for his confidence.”
It would seem that this recorder group is pretty popular too. In Sean’s own words, there are “too many [members] to count,” though this has not put Sean off. He has recorder group friends, who he would not otherwise hang out with.
And this, to me, is what OHMI is all about - not just making music, but making friends and gaining confidence. If anything summed this up for me, it was the smile on Sean’s face along with his assurance that he will continue to play and possibly learn the trumpet one day.