Guildhall School funds research project on autism concerts
Piano professor Noriko Ogawa to work with team of researchers to find out how attending concerts can help the parents and carers of children with autism
The Guildhall School has announced that it is funding a new research project on how attending concerts can help the parents and carers of children with autism.
Held since 2004 in Japan and the UK, Jamie's Concerts were conceived by Noriko through her own experience of living with the family of a child with severe autism, Jamie, when she first moved to the UK.
The concerts are designed for those who are not able to normally go to concerts, such as parents of children with autism or some other form of disability. The setting provides a rare opportunity for families to get together in a non-institutionalised setting and can be a welcome respite from their demanding lives.
Ogawa said: “I have always wanted some form of academic backup for what I am doing. It has always been emotionally driven, but I would like to find out if the concerts can be considered objectively good as well. And if anything could be done better or help us to achieve more, I would like to know.”
Jamie’s Concerts take place regularly in Japan, and in 2010 Ogawa also launched the series in the UK. This year, they will take place at venues including Guildhall’s new Milton Court Concert Hall and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. She has been made a cultural ambassador for the National Autistic Society in recognition of her work, a role that will be formally launched in the spring.
Ogawa first approached John Sloboda, director of the Guildhall’s Understanding Audiences research programme, in autumn last year. Professor Sloboda will carry out the research alongside psychologist, singer and teacher Karen Wise and music therapy specialist Alison Barrington.
Ogawa adds: “This is extremely important to me because it comes from my own personal experience. I lived with the family for two years and I understand what it’s like. It was very tough to cope with Jamie. I wanted to help him but I couldn’t, so I decided to help his mother. I’m not a doctor, a nurse or a teacher, but what I can do is give a concert.”
"I just want to know that the concerts are a good thing. I’m not expecting anything but if the research shows an overall positive effect, that would be great."