It’s great that so many people talk about and are involved in, projects for young disabled people but we wanted to let them speak for themselves. We spoke with several young people about the things that are important to them.
Guy (10) has a variety of interests, chief among them being the playing of the chanter. Traditionally, this is a two-handed musical instrument that leads on to playing the bagpipes. Guy has unformed fingers on his left hand and so plays a specially adapted version.
How does your disability affect you?
It doesn’t really affect me. It just feels normal to me.
How did you come to study the chanter?
Well I wanted to play the bagpipes, but my mum said it would be a bit tricky, so she contacted the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust (OHMI). They contacted Duncan saying: ‘Could you make a onehanded chanter?’ He’d done his PhD in making digital bagpipes.
What are the key differences that enable you to play the chanter and graduate onto the bagpipes?
Well there’s only five holes involved, all the rest are blocked off. The different hand movements control the different sounds. All those notes are condensed into one hand. Because it’s digital, Duncan has basically had to relearn the whole instrument, because he’s now teaching me all the notes – but with one hand. It’s very clever.
Are there times when you do feel disabled, perhaps because of the situation you find yourself in or because of something somebody might have said to you?
Well when people first see me they’re really surprised that I have this hand and one time I did get bullied for it but I told my teacher because it was at school and then she talked to them.
When do you feel at your best?
Probably when I do what any other person can do. I do swimming and karate. I love learning karate, and I’ve got medals in all my swimming levels. I do stuff that I probably wouldn’t be able to do if I didn’t try.
Do you think it’s easier being disabled today than it was in the past?
I think it is, because technology has moved on and it can be used to help people overcome challenges.
What are your ambitions?
One of my dreams is to play at the Edinburgh Tattoo, a big event at Edinburgh Castle. It’s during the month of August every year and it’s very spectacular. There’s always a lone piper that’s piping on the battlements of the castle.
What advice you would give to other young disabled people?
I would say follow your dreams and don’t give up because if you do you won’t do anything good in your life.
What does OHMI give to young disabled people?
It gives them a chance to play an instrument and do what they want. I also play the recorder at school – they have a one-handed recorder for me, so I can play with my friends.
I’m going to a new school in September and they actually have a pipe band, so I’m hoping I’ll be a part of that as well.
The OHMI Trust is a charity pioneering the development and adaptation of musical instruments for physically disabled people.
OHMI will host a conference exploring the barriers to music-making faced by people with physical disabilities as well as celebrating the annual OHMI competition awards, 7 – 8 September 2018.