Maria is one of OHMI’s most established musicians. She started her musical journey with the recorder but moved on to the clarinet some time ago. We were delighted that she performed as part of the ‘Clarinet Trio’ at OHMI’s Tenth Anniversary Celebrations in 2021. Her performing career has only flourished since, following her acceptance to NOYO (the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra).
Here, Maria and her mum, Mirela, recount what a difference the adapted clarinet has made to their family.
In Maria’s words:
“It was in Year 2 that I started playing the recorder. It wasn’t long after I’d had surgery as a 5-year-old, and it was a family friend, Clare Salters, who found an adapted recorder for me through OHMI. Clare has been my music teacher ever since and is the one I thank for helping me play a musical instrument. She is always very patient if I get it wrong, and we just practise until I get it right.
No disrespect to the recorder but I decided to switch to the clarinet in Year 4. I love the clarinet because of the way it feels and its deep sound, and it definitely functions better than the recorder which is small and light. Also, the clarinet is not an instrument everyone can play so it’s a nice feeling to be someone who can!
I really like playing in an orchestra because no-one notices that I play any differently when I’m with others.
Playing at OHMI’s event in 2021 was a bit scary but I like the idea that I was teaching people about the clarinet. I see playing the clarinet as another step to becoming what people don’t expect of me.
My recent audition with NOYO (the National Open Youth Orchestra) was a success. I get to rehearse and perform with other children and young people from the ages of 11 to 25. Some have a disability, others don’t, but there’s always extra help for those who need it.
When I’m older, I want to go to a university specialising in music. I want other children to see what I’m doing, see that it’s really cool and to then follow in my steps. I’d actually quite like to be a famous in this way!
My advice is to remember that people can do whatever they want – even if it’s something they had never previously considered.”
In Mirela’s words:
“We’ve known Maria’s teacher (Clare Salters) for eleven or so years since our sons were at primary school together.
Clare has become such an important part of our family because she’s really helped make things happen for Maria, including putting her name forward to NOYO. My husband and I like listening to music but don’t know much about it otherwise so we needed someone who would see Maria’s potential and help her dream big.
Music is such a huge part of the school curriculum. When Maria moved up to secondary school, she initially felt left behind. The options available for whole-class teaching were only on instruments such as the flute and ukulele which, for any child with an upper limb difference, are very hard to play. That’s why the opportunity to play the clarinet is so important to her – although she now has her sights set on the piano!
I have real admiration for the instrument makers out there who take the time to think about how children and adults like Maria can be supported, and to charities like OHMI who help connect the two. The ideas for adapted instruments are certainly very clever, and work in this area is so important in ensuring that no-one who wants to play music, gets left behind.”
Know a child or young person between the ages of 11-25 who might be interested in joining NOYO in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth or Cardiff? Applications for auditions are open until 31 March. Learn more on the NOYO website.