Cotting School (Lexington, MA) student Davis Raymond has thrived in a class environment that is accessible, engaging, collaborative, supportive, and enjoyable to enhance and accelerate learner-centered education.
Davis, supported by some of his closest friends and family, is one of the inaugural members of Real School's amplifi Adaptive Music Program — the nation’s first-ever provider of music and performance-based extended learning programs designed specifically for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
The following article is part of our Student Spotlight series, which highlights the stories and experiences of Real School and amplifi students and their families.
Unlike adaptive sports (which are primarily recreational), or music therapy (which is primarily clinical), amplifi programming is first and foremost educational. Yet, the programs do have both recreational and therapeutic attributes that are an inevitable byproduct of amplifying the voices of those with needs.
By allowing those with special needs to create and perform educationally-based adaptive musical theater productions, amplifi's programs have been shown to positively impact participants' abilities to express feelings and emotions, increase overall self-worth, build confidence, relieve symptoms of depression, and elicit joy and happiness.
Davis and his family have been enthusiastically participating in the program from the beginning. His instructors have included Kelly Surette, Olivia Stiling, Corrine Mina, Terry O’Malley, and Lisa Symmonds.
amplifi Program Coordinator and Instructor Olivia Stiling has worked closely with Davis, and commented, "Davis has been with amplifi since the very first class! He always comes to class with a smile, and is ready to try new things in music class. He has an amazing passion for learning, and is always eager to help both teachers and fellow students when needed."
Olivia continued, "Davis is currently enrolled in two amplifi classes, and has now taken on the role of Classroom Assistant in a third class. I am honored to be his music teacher, and I can't wait to see where his musical journey takes him!"
We were excited to speak with Davis and his mom, Nancy, to learn more about their experience with amplifi...
At what age did you start with music lessons and where did you take lessons?
Where do you attend school during the day, and what grade are you in?
Davis: I am in the 11th grade at Cotting School in Lexington.
Are you in the school orchestra, band, or choir?
Davis: Yes, I'm in the school choir.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of school?
Davis: I like basketball, soccer, baseball, and playing wii games.
Why did you decide to join an amplifi class and what do you like best about it?
Davis: My girlfriend invited me to join her class. I enjoyed the first class and have signed up for the all sessions ever since. I like writing the songs for class and being in the group.
How has playing music made a positive impact on your life?
Davis: I am a better singer, so have more confidence singing in front of a group. Singing in the morning before school puts me in a good mood.
Why do you think that you're doing so well with amplifi music classes?
Davis: I have great teachers and a nice group of people I sing with. Everyone is very enthusiastic.
What is one of your most memorable experiences so far?
Davis: Kelly [Kelly Surette, amplifi Executive Director] was so nice to me. She came to the hospital and videotaped my solo song that she wrote for me and then played it on the big screen during the showcase. I was still in the hospital on the day of the showcase. I took voice lessons with Kelly and she helped me sing much better.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are looking to develop their skills?
Davis: Three things: 1) do your music homework and practice, 2) learn the lyrics, and, 3) enroll in an amplifi class!
What are your future plans? What are your career and/or musical goals?
Davis: I want to be on The Voice! I want to be a music teacher.
Here's a question for Davis' mom, Mary. What advice do you have for other parents to help support their child's music growth in this program?
Mary: Take the first step and sign up! amplifi is unique. It is a great program to expose your child or young adult to. I have been so impressed with the teachers and the individuals in the groups.
My son is one of the youngest ones in an adult class and he has made great connections with his fellow singers.