Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ on Womens Radio Station was Gergana founder of London Music Box
My name is Gergana and I am the Founder of London Music Box – an award-winning music tuition school for mainstream students on those on the Autism Spectrum, learning in one inclusive and supporting environment.
My aims with London Music Box are to bring together mainstream students and people on the Autism Spectrum without labelling and division, as well as to smash the stigma and dispel the myth that ASD students are not as normal as “normal” people are.
Our mission is to educate society that people should not be dismissed solely because they are on the Autism Spectrum.
1. Tell us about yourself?
I am originally from Bulgaria. I’ve graduated from the National Music School there with Piano Performance and received a full scholarship at the University of Denver to do my bachelor’s degree. They’ve also awarded me with a full scholarship to stay and do my master’s degree there in Piano Performance and Music Education.
I’ve moved to England after I was accepted in Cambridge to do a Doctorate degree. Instead of that, I’ve decided to start London Music Box.
We are based in London and have been running since 2013.
2. Why was London Music Box set up?
A mother of an ASD child got in touch with me asking whether I would be willing to teach her son, as she couldn’t find someone that was accepting of him and wanted to teach him. After a bit of research, I found out that there wasn’t a school or a service like this where they will openly accept (and be proud of it) ASD students. I realised that I can change this as I believe everyone has the right to play and make music.
I’ve started London Music Box as I wanted to expose more mainstream students to ASD students so they can learn in one inclusive and supportive environment and teach society that people shouldn’t be dismissed solely because they are on the ASD spectrum.
Our aims with London Music Box are to bring together mainstream students and people on the Autism Spectrum without labelling and division, as well as to smash the stigma and dispel the myth that ASD students are not as normal as “normal” people are.
3.What services do you offer?
We offer 1:1 music tuition for mainstream and ASD students in all instruments including voice. The lessons are held either in one of our central London studios or as home visits. We found that the most popular instruments are piano, guitar, violin and voice and try to concentrate on them. Along with regular music tuition, we also prepare students for ABRSM exams.
4. What differentiates you from other music schools?
We are very proud of our work with ASD students, as well as our events and socials throughout the year. We have several themed concerts each year which are accompanied by socials afterwards. For example: our Christmas concert was so much fun and we went to a pizza-making workshop afterwards with all the kids.
5. What difference have you seen in your students since joining London Music Box?
Because of our frequent performance opportunities, you see the students grow in confidence, as well as musicians.
The fun and social aspect of things is of course there, so they make new friends along the way and obviously the benefit of doing music- we all know how beneficial it is not only for ASD but also for mainstream students.
6. What do you think mainstream students need to know about ASD students?
I want society to understand that difference between mainstream and ASD students and why ASD people are the way they are, behave and do the things they do….and not to feel uneasy about them when they are around.
7. How can parents embrace the use of music with their autistic children?
We all know the positive effects of music, which is particularly helpful for ASD students, as it is often a way of expression, an outlet for them especially if they are non-verbal. It is important to expose kids to different types of music each day- whether is having something on the background at mealtime or taking them to a show. There are lots of music games you can do at home- from ‘’musical statues’’, ‘’musical chairs’’ to clapping and tapping games which a variety of rhythms.
8. What is your long-term goal for London Music Box?
I would love to see London Music Box reach more people through music, not only in London but in other cities in England, and why not other countries. Our goals will still be to spread awareness about autism and get as many ASD people to try music and explore their own full potential.
Connect with London Music Box on social media
If you missed Anna Kennedy OBE’s interview this week on Women’s Radio Station with Gergana it will be aired again this weekend at 1pm and 1am. www.womensradiostation.com