Music success

Post date: 
Thursday, 27 July 2017
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Nicki Kelly is a partially sighted singer-songwriter from Birmingham. She founded The VIP Project after noticing a lack of activity in her area for young people interested in pursuing music careers. 

"We spoke to her to take stock of what the project has achieved so far, and what the future may hold." 
Can you tell us a bit about the project? 
"The VIP Project is a series of song writing and performance workshops for visually impaired people aged 18-35. The aim is to empower and inspire visually impaired people who are passionate about music, to pursue it and learn how to write and craft songs, so that they can go off and pursue their musical aspirations with confidence."
The mentors will play a vital role, so who are they and how have they responded to working with blind and partially sighted people?
"The mentors are myself, Dan Whitehouse, Michael Clarke and Sarah Howells, who is also known as Bryde.
"We held a visual impairment awareness training day, where they learnt a lot about being visually impaired and also tried sim specs. These are glasses to simulate what vision is like with a specific sight loss condition – that was really insightful for them.
"The mental capacity of visually impaired people is the same as anyone else, but sometimes the physical environment isn’t easy for us to navigate. For our participants to get the most out of the project, it’s vital that we consider their needs from the outset rather than it being an afterthought.
"This preparation means mentors can just get on with delivering the best sessions possible. They’ve got so much out of this experience, and one of them has even described it as life changing."

What have been some of the highlights so far?

"The participants and seeing their passion, as well as watching their confidence and creativity grow, which has been quite humbling. Participants tell me the project is amazing, they’d never thought of doing things that way. It’s been so much fun." 
What’s next for The VIP Project? 
"I am considering what the future looks like. I think it will happen again but may look very different. I won’t reveal too much. You'll have to watch this space!"
This article originally appeared in Connect magazine - Summer 2017 edition.
Find out more
  • Hear more from the project in our audioBoom archives, just search ‘The VIP Project’. We look forward to charting the progress of both the project and those who took part.
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