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Olivia and Billiejean both attend the Richard Cloudesley school in Islington, north London, for young pupils with physical and learning disabilities.

 

And the singer is clearly moved by watching the girls work with music therapists Donald Wetherick and Ergina Sampathianaki.

 

“I’ve been singing all my life but I didn’t realise how this therapy worked,” says Shane.

 

“It’s mind-blowing. Music is the universal language but for children with disabilities, it means even more.

 

“It’s much more powerful than people realise.”

 

Donald plays a simple song on the piano, repeating the girls’ names as Ergina carefully holds out instruments for them to tap. Four-year-old Olivia loves banging a stick on the drum, while Billiejean, eight, hits a cymbal and rings a bell.

 

Olivia enjoys her go on the drum so much, she doesn’t want to let go of the stick.

 

But when they move on to the piano and guitar, their enjoyment seems even deeper.

 

Shane, 34, says: “You can tell how the music makes them instantly happier.

 

“You can see how it’s an escape to them.

 

“The more Donald played the piano, the more alert they were.

 

“Billiejean doesn’t speak but she was making noises when she played the guitar.

 

“It seemed to me she was trying to say she loved it as she kept strumming it.

 

“She made a noise every time she strummed it to say she was happy.

 

“It’s so moving to watch.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming here today is even more poignant for Shane as he has three children of his own, the two youngest around the same age as Olivia and Billiejean.

 

“Luckily my children are healthy,” says Shane. “But you take it for granted how easy it is for your kids to get up and sing and dance.

 

“Olivia and Billiejean love music just as much as my children but it’s in a different way and they have to have help to enjoy it.

 

“These kids were so happy and enjoying the music. They were annoyed at the end when they had to stop!

 

“Music is one of those things where you go into your own world and relax.

 

“It’s helping people get better, helping people improve their situation through music. It makes you feel happy or sad or reminds you of something, whether it was 20 years ago or yesterday.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nordoff Robbins was founded in the late 1950s by Paul Nordoff, an American musician, and Clive Robbins, a teacher.

 

It now delivers more than 50,000 sessions a year across the UK, with therapists working to help people to communicate in a way they have not been able to previously, to express feelings or to improve movement and mobility.

 

It’s not just children the charity helps – they also work with older people who have dementia and patients with cancer, as well as those in schools, hospitals, care homes and community centres throughout the UK.

 

Nordoff Robbins has also just started helping servicemen and women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Shane adds: “Music is a huge part of my life so if I can do my bit to help raise awareness and spread the word, I’m happy with that.

 

“I love being on stage, I love singing in front of people.

 

“Olivia and Billejean probably got the same feeling today that I get singing in front of 10,000 people.

 

“Music just has this amazing power to transform lives.”

 

To find out more, or to donate to Nordoff Robbins, please visit nordoff-robbins.org.uk. Shane’s new album You & Me is out on Monday.

 

Source: Daily Star

 

02 November 2013: It’s only matched by the happiness school pal Billiejean Humberstone Perrin feels as she strums on a guitar.

 

Life isn’t easy for these two very special little girls – both have cerebral palsy and Billiejean is registered blind.

 

But one thing helps lift their spirits – the incredible music therapy they receive from sessions with the Nordoff Robbins charity.

 

Today, former Westlife star Shane Filan has come along to see the work done by the pioneering organisation.

MEDIA

2013 Nov3

SHANE FILAN MEETS KIDS WHOSE LIVES ARE TRANSFORMED BY THE TINKLE OF A PIANO KEY

2013 Nov 2013 Nov1 2013 Nov4