The Shenandoah Conservatory music therapy department teamed up with The Musical Autist to present a Sensory Friendly Concert on Friday, Nov. 15, in Goodson Chapel – Recital Hall. This event welcomed more than 100 guests from Warren County High School and Grafton School as well as members of the local community. More than 20 Shenandoah Conservatory music therapy students helped present the event under the leadership of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Therapy Kerry Devlin ’17, M.M.T.
“The sensory-friendly concert was an opportunity to see true inclusion, acceptance and community-building in practice,” said Devlin. “For music therapy students, the experience brought together many of the things we learn in the classroom, particularly in terms of seeing the people with whom we work as fellow humans first, respecting their autonomy, and celebrating their individuality. For the community, it was an opportunity to take ownership of a space that is not traditionally accessible, which in turn empowered audience members to experience the music in whatever way felt right for their brains and bodies. Altogether, the concert was a cross-section of the beautifully diverse world we live in.”
The concert featured performances by the Melody Trio and Shenandoah Singers. It was an inclusive performance of the fine arts, celebrating neurodiversity and autistic advocacy. Accommodations — including the freedom of movement and vocalizations, a sensory quiet room, and numerous materials were made available for audience members to use as needed, such as noise-cancelling headphones, sensory fidgets and movement props — were provided for audience members with neurological differences, and who may be more sensitive to the environment.