Music as a connection to the outside world

Published on 15 September 2016

Music opening a whole new world for blind 8-year-old, says music therapist.

While Anine Viljoen continues with music therapy at a crèche in the informal settlement of Zama Zama, she has also started working with Bradley individually. Bradley (whose name here is changed in the interest of his privacy) is eight years old and blind from birth. He’s grown up with his mother and until recently has not been to school or interacted with children his age.

When Bradley started school, he had trouble adjusting to the new and different environment. Anine began music therapy with him and noticed that he is an intelligent boy who enjoys music and plays very naturally, keeping himself busy with the different instruments for hours.

“In the very first session that I had with him,” says Anine, “he was accompanied by his mother. He had been extremely upset, displaying anxiety and fear in his new school surroundings, and I could see that his mother also felt drained, not knowing how to comfort her son. However, the moment I started to sing his greeting song, singing his name and taking his hand so he could feel the guitar strings and strum them himself, he immediately became still and calm. Very soon, he was smiling and even laughing - playing various beats on the xylophone and bongo drums. The guitar, however, has remained his favourite, and Bradley still prefers holding and playing the guitar all by himself! Seeing her son enjoy himself and play spontaneously with another person had an amazing impact on Bradley’s mother: when I looked up at her, she was smiling with tears in her eyes.”

Seeing the beginnings of a brilliant musician in young Bradley, Anine is hopeful that he can develop his innate musical talents. He is a gifted boy, and we can already see in him a dream with real potential.