The stories of Aaron, Alice, Drew, Felix and Jack

A film about teaching children and young people with visual impairment and complex needs

  • Key moments

  • Who is in the film?

    This video features five visually impaired children and young people who have additional, complex educational needs, with severe, or profound and multiple learning difficulties. They are Aaron, Alice, Drew, Felix and Jack. Those working with them are Sam, a vocalist, harpist and community musician; Adrian, from The Soundbeam Project; Paul, a drum teacher who specialises in working with children on the autism spectrum; Adam, founder of The Amber Trust; and Derek, Patron of Amber, a pianist who is himself blind, autistic and has severe learning difficulties.

  • Background

    The children were filmed as they participated in a summer vacation scheme at Linden Lodge School in London, in which music plays a central role. Visiting musicians are invited to work with the children, offering them a range of rich and varied musical experiences that build on and extend the work they undertake during the year at school.

  • Aim

    The aim of the video is to show how the capacity to engage with music can develop in children with visual impairment and complex needs, by taking snapshots of individuals at different levels of musical development, assessed using the Sounds of Intent framework (see This underpins the Tuning In resources, published by Jessica Kingsley, and which form the basis of ‘AmberPlus’ – The Amber Trust’s service for families who have a visually impaired child with complex needs.

  • What does the film cover?

    Visual impairment and learning disability need not be a barrier to musical engagement

    The film shows that children and young people can engage purposefully with music, irrespective of their level of learning disability. Indeed, Jack’s capacity to play by ear as a beginner on the piano is comparable to that of Anaya’s, who does not have learning difficulties Anaya's Story.

    Music can help promote wider development in visually impaired children with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties

    The video highlights the fact that music is of value not only in its own right, as a means of self-expression and communication, but also as a vehicle for promoting wider development, including the awareness of others and a willingness to relate to them (see, for example, Aaron’s session with Sam; cognitive abilities such as the understanding of cause and effect (as in Alice’s engagement with the Soundbeam; the capacity to interact purposefully with fellow musicians (Felix’s drumming with Paul and Adam); the ability to imitate movement (Drew and Adam; and a readiness to learn through copying sequences of sounds and taking turns (Jack and Adam).

    Music is a potential source of fun and wellbeing for those who are visually impaired and have complex needs

    Each of the five children in the video shows real pleasure in engaging musically with other people; music appears to be unique in its capacity to evoke happiness and a sense of fun.