Music is in everyone, says Derek Khani.
As an artist educator, it’s his passion to bring out the inner musician in his students, regardless of their skill level and abilities.
On Wednesday he took his talent to the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre, where 18 youngsters formed a drum circle and created their own symphony of sound.
“You don’t really (have to) put in place anything,” he said. “Something is there. All you have to do is expose it. You take away everything that is a distraction and then they realize, oh, I have this in me already.”
For children with disabilities, mental or physical, it’s a chance to shine, Khani added.
While they might face barriers in everyday life, the children who use the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre are every bit as capable speaking the language of music.
“It keeps them on equal footing as everyone else, you see. Because instead of having to compare them to an idea that they think they are, they just resolve to where they already are – a very creative human being fully functional,” he said, “with physical limitations sometimes, but we can operate within that. Society allows that.”
Kim Sjolund, a co-ordinator at the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre, said the musical lesson was part of the organization’s March break programming, a chance for their clients to get better acquainted with the arts.
In addition to the drumming lesson, they were slated to learn the ins and outs of being a juggling circus clown in the afternoon session.
The response was overwhelming, and for good reason, she said.
“Arts are so individual that children do what’s inside them. Whether it’s making music or creating visual art, which they did yesterday, they are able to learn about the arts and learn what they can do without any right or wrong,” Sjolund said.
She wasn’t surprised at how well the students did on the drums.
“I’m really impressed. They’re catching on. It’s a two-hour session and this morning the kids had to find their beat, their rhythm and they’ve definitely found it.”
George Jeffrey Children’s Centre offers a number of services for children with disabilities, including speech and occupational therapy.
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