Disability-friendly music groups perform at Royal Albert Hall

published on 19 Apr 2024

Disability-friendly music groups from Salvation Army churches across the country were given the chance of a lifetime to perform with music royalty at the iconic Royal Albert Hall earlier this month.

The Salvation Army’s Music Man Project is an inclusive and accessible music for all session which saw musicians and carers from Salvation Army churches in Bognor Regis, Clitheroe, Hampshire and Scotland perform a range of songs, using both vocals and sign language, with international singer and superstar Michael Ball on stage at the famous London venue.

The two-hour show, which was attended by the public, saw the Music Man Groups, made up of adults with learning and physical dsiabilities and neurodiverse conditions, perform 26 songs. 

Brenda Wise, church leader for The Salvation Army in Clitheroe said: “It is important for us to give opportunities to people who are otherwise held back by society and struggle to find places to belong. This once in a lifetime opportunity to perform at such an establishment as the Royal Albert Hall demonstrates how The Salvation Army is inclusive for all and the Music Man Project helps to raise awareness and celebrate what people with barriers to life can achieve. 

MMP Clitheroe
The group from Clitheroe backstage

“It didn’t matter if performers had a musical background or not; everyone was different in their abilities, and we saw all come alive while performing and their eyes lit up, it was really special to see. We want to send a heartfelt thanks to Michael Ball, his involvement gave everyone a unique opportunity to take on a challenge they could have never imagined being involved in before.”

Sarah’s daughter Gabrielle attends the Music Man sessions at The Salvation Army in Bognor Regis and was among the performers at The Royal Albert Hall.

She said Music Man has been life-changing.

Sarah explained: “As a parent of a child with quite profound learning disabilities you get very used to hearing the negatives, what she’s not able to achieve. Music Man is such a positive experience which celebrates everything she does, however small the achievements sometimes are. 

MMP Bognor
The group from Bognor outside The Royal Albert Hall

“A year on and Gabrielle amazes me every session. She is engaged and happy and learning new things all the time. She has never signed but has begun to do so. She delights in her achievements as does the whole group. She has made friends, is included and respected. It means the world. 

“Music is Magic was a triumph for Gabrielle and probably one of the biggest challenges she has faced. We are all so proud of her.” 

Joanne Graham is The Salvation Army’s Disability Engagement Advisor.

She explained: “Everyone at the concert learnt the same repertoire of songs and performed them altogether on the day. It was a magical demonstration of what inclusion is and a wonderful event like this can really change people’s perceptions about what people with a disability can achieve. 

“Michael Ball is a patron of the Music Man Project and made a guest appearance at the concert singing "You can make a difference" with the students and that is what Music Man is all about."

To find out more about the Music Man Project or how to set up a group in your local area, contact us on enabled@salvationarmy.org.uk or 02076017026.

You can also visit The Music Man Project on: www.themusicmanproject.com


A Salvation Army volunteer/staff member talking with Max on a grey sofa inside a Salvation Army building.

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