On 24 March 2019, a team of eight students (seven YST BMus Year 1 and 2 students, and one NUS Architecture student) presented The Deep Blue Sea, a multi-sensory musical experience for children with sensory difficulties, as well as their family and caretakers. A total of about 100 participants attended the performance, across two shows.
Created over the course of three months as part of YST’s Career Development Group Project module, the concert aimed to provide an inclusive, safe and fun environment for participants to enjoy classical music and explore musical instruments. The team comprised Charmaine Tay (NUS Architecture), Elicia Neo (Music, Collaboration & Production), Felita Eleonora (Harp), Lee Yu Ru (Percussion), Wong Yong En (Music, Collaboration & Production), Shi Jia Ao (Bassoon), Tay Shu Wen (Piano), and Viktoriya Klyukina (Flute) (Yu Ru in Year 2, all others Year 1).
From scripting, arranging, making props and graphic design, to consulting educators and arts practitioners on creating for people with special needs, the team worked to ensure a nurturing and engaging environment for the children and families.
Elicia shared, “Often, children with special needs and their families are not able to attend typical classical concerts together. Traditional concert lighting and repertoire are not always comfortable for the children, and the formal etiquette can often make families afraid of causing a disturbance during the concert. By presenting classical music in a relaxed setting, we welcome and accept the children to freely express themselves, and hope to provide a peace of mind for their family.”
Commenting on the experience, Jia Ao shared, “Playing for the families has truly shown me how music can change lives. Even though it was a new experience for the children that they did not always know how to react to, we could tell that they were moved by our music – that the music was speaking to them, even if words failed.”
Mei Lan from the group Friends of ASD Families shared, “Deep Blue Sea provided children with exposure to classical music in a way which was engaging, accessible and imaginative. For families in our community, a trip to catch a performance can be a challenge – but this was a relaxed performance where even the children who needed more time to settle in were not left behind and could enjoy the show. The music truly worked its wonders, and our gratitude goes to the team for creating such a soothing, enchanting space for us all!”