Street closures around the NAC during Ottawa Race Weekend

A certain way of engaging with music

Elizabeth Simpson, Deuxième cor, Orchestre du CNA

Elizabeth Simpson, Second Horn, NAC Orchestra

Fred Cattroll

Elizabeth Simpson is a musician with the National Arts Centre Orchestra – a professional horn player educated in the intricacies and richness of classical music, and dedicated to the high level of artistic excellence that is the NAC Orchestra.

She is also a mom.

For that combo alone, I am envious of the really lucky participants in her special workshops designed in collaboration with Erin Parkes, Director of the Lotus Centre for Special Music Education. Liz gets it. She engages children who are on the Autistic Spectrum – some of whom have Asperger’s Syndrome – through the senses, in a hands-on approach that suits children with these highly-sensitive orientations.

Again, envious. Where do I sign up? My son, who has Asperger’s, is often so loaded-down with stimuli that most of us wouldn’t even NOTICE (for instance, any kind of light, sparkle, colour in floor tiles, patterns in wallpaper, light and shadow filtering through tree branches), that paying attention to other levels of communication can be just too much. The approach that Liz and Erin take is tailor-made to autistic children or those with Asperger’s, some of whom may be fascinated by textures, whether tactile or sonic, and are keen to express their ideas, but find any kind of group “experience” almost impossible to tolerate.

“I was extremely pleased with the first workshop,” said Liz after their first music session. “The kids were attentive and happy and we enjoyed our time together singing, clapping, learning about all the brass instruments, and individually playing the trumpet. They were amazing and were excited to know we would meet again two weeks later.”

In later sessions, the children have learned to recognize patterns in conducting and trying out other brass instruments. The Music Circle workshops culminate in a special performance at the National Arts Centre, in the Fountain Room, on Saturday, March 22nd. We can’t wait!

Special Interactive Performance 1:00pm Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Free Admission, by reservation only.

Please contact Erin Parkes, Lotus Centre for Special Music Education: 613-801-0031

andrea.hossack@nac-cna.ca

Communications Officer for the NAC Orchestra / Agente de communication pour l’Orchestre du CNA