Check out the video: ASAT students make beautiful music!
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Check out the video: ASAT students make beautiful music!

The following is a special needs program update from Chapel Haven. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

Several female students and graduates of Chapel Haven’s Asperger Syndrome Adult Transition Program were busy last fall writing their own songs through an innovative “class” offered by the Neighborhood Music School.

Entitled, “NoteAble Women,” the program gave each individual the chance to create an original song with help from the school’s renowned music faculty.

David Mills at the Neighborhood Music School put together a video of the culminating concert.

For two hours every Friday, the students, accompanied by ASAT Student Advisor Gina Apicella, went to the Neighborhood Music School to study songs they liked, to write lyrics and then to try out their creations with the help of faculty assisting on keyboards, a loog guitar and drums. Their songs were performed in a special concert during the ASAT family weekend April 27 at the Neighborhood Music School. They were assisted by NMS faculty members.

“The idea was to bring these women together to write an original song that reflects on their collaboration with our faculty members – Sarah Lamieux and David Mills – and to reflect on their own lives – to get in touch with feelings they might otherwise not share,” said Gretchen Hary, Director of Special Needs at the school and on the percussion faculty.

“Not being a big songwriter myself I wondered how we would take these women with no songwriting experience and come away with a song. I was a little skeptical at first. But I was just amazed, and the women were too, at the songs they created with the help of these facilitators.’

Among the topics of the songs? First love, what else?

Gina, who is a point staffer for Chapel Haven’s ASAT program, likewise said the program helped the students “enjoy music as a universal language. There were no constraints.”

“The sense of accomplishment is awesome,” Gina said. “They are proud of what they’ve worked on.”

NoteAble Women was made possible after Alice Ann Harwood, development director at the Neighborhood Music School, applied for and received a grant from the Community Foundation’s Women and Girls Foundation. The school already offers a drum circle class for ASAT students and the grant was another way for the school to further one of its goals: to serve youngsters and adults on the spectrum through the medium of music.

In turn, Chapel Haven has helped the Neighborhood Music School with professional development. “We have so many students on the spectum and music is so natural, we have started seeing an influx of students,” said Gretchen. “A lot of us had no experience so we went out and started educating ourselves. With this project, we saw it as a good way to continue moving forward working with students on the spectrum. The goal was to see if we could instill self confidence or help them learn about themselves in a new way through the music. It’s another way of bringing music out into the community as well.”