Louisa Maddison, Music Teacher, Royal Blind

Louisa Madisson, Music Teacher

I have been a music teacher at The Royal Blind School for 8 and a half years now. My average day is busy and mostly very noisy!  My day ranges from performing on both voice and percussion instruments with pupils who have a Visual Impairment and Additional Support Needs, to working towards SQA certificate courses in music from national 2 all the way up to Advanced Higher. I run a Samba band on Tuesday evening for all pupils who want to attend, giving pupils of all ages and abilities the chance to work collaboratively on a samba performance each term. 

My biggest challenge is to design appropriate musical activities, to ensure that the children can reach their full potential in music. I'm very hands-on with the pupils, and really enjoy creating music with them. There are huge benefits that music offers and in so many areas. It's wonderful to see how the pupils can grow in confidence and develop their performing skills. 

The most important part of the job is my connection to the pupils and the interaction I have with them through music. Music is such a valuable tool, particularly when working with pupils who have limited means of communication. Music can convey sadness, anger, happiness. It can be used as a form of dialogue between myself and a pupil where we can interact without conventional language skills. Music removes many barriers to learning and helps to develop the ability to express themselves more openly. 

Teaching mostly takes place in the music room, however one afternoon a week I work with the Drama teacher Aine Murphy and our Art teacher Nuala Herron with a group of older pupils. This interdisciplinary approach means the Arts team can work on a joint project linking the areas of art, music and drama within the one group activity. Sometimes this involves working on the stage in the hall, on the floor outside - whatever is most appropriate for the activity. 

We are equipped with a range of musical instruments such as keyboards, piano, guitars. We have lots of percussion instruments such as drum kits and samba drums. In addition, we use switch-enable instruments for pupils who have difficulty gripping. These instruments are operated via a hand or head switch which activates the sound of the instrument.  Microphones are used frequently in the music room as many pupils enjoy hearing their voice amplified back to them through the speakers. We have the facility to record and edit pupils performances via an audio recording system.