Music Success Stories: Cian’s Story

The OHMI (One Handed Musical Instrument) Trust  is a UK-based charity pioneering the development and adaptation of musical instruments for people who are physically disabled.

Services For Education have partnered with the OHMI Trust for some years now and currently have 14 pupils in the city receiving 1:1 lessons for free through them. One of those pupils is Cian.

Today, I would like to thank Cian’s mother, Sharon, for sharing his journey with us…

How did your son’s music lessons start?

“Our work with OHMI started when Mrs Benton at Cian’s primary school got an email and then referred Cian to the OHMI Trust.  We went to an open day at the CBSO Centre in in October 2015. 

We had a talk about OHMI and what it was all about.  OHMI helps people with upper limb disabilities and they adapt instruments so that the kids can play music.  David Muncey, a trumpet player with one arm, came and played and Nicholas McCarthy, also born with one arm talked about playing the piano.  This showed what can be done, as Nicholas is a concert pianist. 

The children went into another room and got to experience the trumpet for the first time.  His trumpet lessons began with Naomi Stevenson the following week at school.  Before he started his trumpet lessons school had offered guitar, ukulele and flute so Cian had tried all these instruments at school but regardless of how hard he tried he couldn’t play them. 

It didn’t matter what the instrument was but finding out that Cian could play something that was specially adapted for him, and play it as well as everyone else who had two fully working hands was amazing.  Cian’s disability is quite hidden unless you know what you are looking for.  This was the first opportunity he had to play on a level with everybody else.”

How did the first year of lessons go?

“At the beginning it went well and as Cian was learning and playing in front of more people he got more confident.  In January 2016 Cian played at the House of Lords in front of lots of people at an OHMI event.  He has gone on to do numerous concerts, first with the OHMI ensemble in the Adrian Boult Hall, John Lewis in Solihull, and a Services for Education Ensemble concert.”

What has he accomplished since?

“Cian passed his Copper and Bronze Music Medals and did his Grade 1 in summer 2017.  Being able to play the trumpet has given him the opportunity to do the Arts Award Discover and play alongside bands including the City of Birmingham Brass Band and West Midlands Fire Service Band.”

This year Services for Education are going to sponsor Cian for NOFA.  What is NOFA?

“NOFA stands for National Orchestras for All.  National Orchestras for All is a programme where young people aged 11-18 with all kinds of disabilities and backgrounds can come together and become an orchestra. 

They travel to new places and stay for up to 3 days.  They play all types of music, including pieces that have accompaniments from different instruments.  Most of the pieces are arranged specially for the group with a few original pieces. 

The musicians play all sorts of instruments including, recorder and percussion, piano and then strings, brass and woodwind like regular orchestras.”

How would you describe the experience of NOFA?

“The first time I was a bit nervous because Cian had to go away for a few days and he was only 11 and has a disability.  He had only been away in year 6 on a residential but that time he knew everyone.  After the first course he came back and had absolutely loved it. 

He made great friends during the course.  NOFA was mainly about playing music but also gave an opportunity to do fun activities with others that he hadn’t met before from a wide variety of backgrounds. 

There are three residentials each year and each one ends in a public concert.  We haven’t been able to go to the concerts ourselves but each one is streamed on Facebook so we have been able to watch them that way.”

What’s been the best thing about Cian playing the trumpet?

“I don’t know really. It’s all been really great. I’ve got a scrapbook full of all the programmes, tickets and letters for Cian’s concerts, and I can’t believe what he’s been able to do.

He’s come on so much and it’s all because of Services for Education and The OHMI Trust.”


Thanks Sharon, we really appreciate the time taken to write Cian’s story and we’re so happy to hear about Cian’s successes and enjoyment as a musician.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this story, please email us at music@servicesforeducation.co.uk

About Our Charitable Projects

Services For Education is a unique charity that uses the power of learning and of music to create and build confidence amongst children, young people and adults in communities across the West Midlands.

As a not-for-profit company, all surplus is re-invested into a range of charitable projects that support vulnerable adults and children in Birmingham, including:

  • Soundtots; supporting children between 3-5 years old
  • Tiger Tiger; an arts project for adults with additional needs
  • The Music Cares project for children in care
  • Community Choirs

Our donations and profits also help us to keep all of our Ensembles going (and free for participants)!

Find out more about our charitable projects and appeals, here: www.sfecharity.co.uk/appeals

Or feel free to contact us at fundraising@servicesforeducation.co.uk or on 0121 366 9950 if you’d like to get involved.

About The OHMI Trust

Any deficiency or disability in one hand or arm makes traditional instruments unplayable to any reasonable standard.

As a result, millions across the world are excluded from music-making for the lack of suitable instruments. This includes people with congenital disabilities such as cerebral palsy and hemiplegia, amputees, those who have suffered a stroke or developed arthritis.

The OHMI Trust’s objectives are to remove the barriers to music making faced by physically disabled people, and to enable undifferentiated participation in musical life, whether at school, in the home or in a professional ensemble.

Find out more about The OHMI Trust, here.

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At Services For Education we provide a wide range of activities for children, including:

If you would like any more information or advice, please feel free to email us at hello@servicesforeducation.co.uk

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