Last night the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired hosted the San Francisco end-of-term performances by the students of its Music Academy. Hosted by the Enchanted Hills camp in Napa, the Academy is the brain child of Bill McCann, who organized it to provide musical training for those between the ages of 16 and 24. While the focus is on technique and both solo and group music-making, McCann has extended the curriculum to provide an introduction to the latest technologies involved in production and distribution.
It would be fair to say that the primary objective is to introduce and provide students with access to the joys of making music. Building confidence counts for as much as acquiring technique; and, for many of the participants, the former matters more than the latter. Whether any of the participants will go on to establish themselves in the music profession matters less than their coming away with an appreciation of the rich diversity of social experiences that derive from both making and listening to music.
Because these students are all in the early stages of this pursuit, it would be unfair to name any names. More important was the diversity of content in last night’s program. Classical, pop, and jazz were all given due coverage. There were instrumental and vocal soloists, the latter including one singer accompanying herself at the piano. There was also an “all-hands” opening with all participants singing in a chorus. The result was a very satisfying two-hour reminder of how, at heart, all music is one of our most delightfully engaging social phenomena.