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Making the impossible into reality

Making the impossible into reality

We are always excited to hear inspiring stories about young people! Our latest blog post highlights how music can have a positive effect on those with learning difficulties and features the story of Chapman Shum, a 13-year-old who has been blind since birth and has speech and learning difficulties yet has excelled in music.

Chapman’s journey with music

Chapman Shum, 13, has made remarkable strides in music. Despite having a rare disease that caused his blindness from birth, as well as speech and learning difficulties, Chapman has found success with music.

At the age of 11, Chapman turned what seemed impossible into reality. He achieved the incredible feat of passing the Grade 8 piano exam with distinction. Over the past two years he has gone on to showcase his talent on various stages across the UK. For instance, performing solo recitals at Westminster Music Library and even playing at the opening ceremony of the Trade Union Congress Conference. His musical talents have led to him being honoured in 2023 with the Young Person of the Year award by SENSE UK, recognising his inspiring musical journey.

The benefits of music for children with learning difficulties

For Chapman, music has been a source of motivation, confidence-building, and focus. Beyond his own personal growth, he actively contributes his musical talents to charitable performances to inspire others. He hopes his journey shows the incredible benefits of music and how it can offer a unique avenue for communication and expression – particularly for children with special needs who may not thrive in traditional classroom settings.

Some ways in which music enhances learning include:

  • Singing: Improves communication skills and speech.
  • Rhythm: Refines motor skills and coordination.
  • Memorising Lyrics: Aids in better memorisation of academic material.
  • Listening to Music: Increases focus in the classroom.

Some famous musicians have also overcome their disabilities to achieve positive recognition Examples include: Beethoven who continued to compose music despite losing his hearing; AWOLNATION’s Aaron Bruno, who was born 80% deaf in one ear and diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and has led a successful band; Susan Boyle, who stunned the world with her singing on Britain’s Got Talent and has become one of the most famous autistic musicians globally, challenging preconceptions and inspiring countless individuals.

In essence, music becomes a powerful force that transcends challenges, opening doors to self-expression, personal growth, and breaking societal norms. Chapman’s story, along with others, demonstrates the transformative impact of music on individuals with diverse abilities.

 Chapman’s future

Currently, Chapman is challenging himself with the Performance Grade exam, pushing his boundaries further. Additionally, On January 31st, 2024, he will grace the Wandsworth Hall stage during a Jack Petchey Achievement Award ceremony. Chapman’s goal is not only to captivate the audience with his music but also to foster a deeper understanding of S.E.N. students.

Picture of Chapman playing piano.

Do you have a positive and uplifting story to tell? We’d love to hear it! Reach out to us at for the opportunity to share your story and achievements!


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