Harmony Music Therapy sponsored and hosted a Sensory Friendly Concert on May 31st in Salt Lake City with great results! We had over 70 people in attendance, over 30 of whom were kids. Sam Payne was our performer and he did a wonderful job of engaging the kids and playing high quality music which was enjoyed by all present.
It was definitely an interesting experience trying to manage safety of the kids vs. positive exploration and expression. The majority of the kids were on or around the stage playing instruments, dancing, and even jumping off the stage (which was just a couple feet high). This was a stretch for some of the parents to realize that it was okay for their children to move and explore in their own way and to know that it was acceptable and welcome in that environment. Of course the line needed to be drawn with kids that taking the microphones or picking up spare guitars by themselves was not acceptable…that comes down to respecting the artist’s equipment. But the focus in Sensory Friendly Concerts is to create an atmosphere that is accepting and respecting of Neurodiversity, and that is exactly what we did. The motto, “hand flapping allowed” really says it all!
As part of the research study on the benefit of Sensory Friendly Concerts, we were also able to collect a number of surveys to add to the data. We had 8 volunteers to help with the kids, 6 of whom were music therapists who have experience working with children with special needs. It was heartwarming to see the kids approach the stage, dance, play with instruments, and most of all interact with each other and with the volunteers. Overall the event was an overwhelming success and I look forward to doing it again in the fall.