Ashleigh was born at 23 weeks weighing just 580 grams. One of twins and registered blind from birth she also has a diagnosis of Autism. Now 17, Ashleigh has played for MPs in the House of Commons as well as performing at the Bank of England head office, the Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall, Dorchester Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral.
Ashleigh first met the Music Works in 2014 when we led a whole-class music programme at The Milestone School for disabled children and young people.
We brought in everything-but-the-kitchen-sink in terms of assistive technology. Ashleigh wanted to play the old school piano. At only 13 years old Ashleigh impressed our music leaders with her command of the instrument. Whilst she was able to play tunes well what was remarkable was the accuracy with which she could replay freestyle melodies sung by her peers and then arrange music around them.
Her passion for music was clear but the people caring for Ashleigh were at a loss to find pathways to make sure her potential could be realised.
Over the next four years, working alongside The Music Works, Ashleigh completed Drake Music’s 10-week Sound of Intent course, learned saxophone with Gloucestershire Academy of Music and played live many times with the Derek Paravicini quartet under the tutelage of Prof. Adam Ockelford.
Chief among Ashleigh’s outstanding musical achievements was her four-year partnership with The Music Works, leading the 300-strong massed student choir at the G15 annual celebration of success at Gloucester Cathedral. Her role included arranging parts and playing piano for original songs written by young people across all 15 of Gloucester’s secondary schools.
As a farewell to the G15, Ashleigh wrote and opened the 2019 finale with a solo vocal performance for a pin-drop-silent audience ending with rapturous applause, a standing ovation and a rousing encore.
Back in our studio, Ashleigh was busy writing her first EP on her laptop using Logic music software mentored by Shivan, one of our Upsurge engineers. Ashleigh knows what she wants music software to do but being blind and autistic, she struggles sometimes to get the response she’s looking for. With Shivan’s help she is now using adapted hardware to enable her to learn Independently and has achieved an overall merit in her B-TEC Level 2 music production course.
In 2020, Ashleigh played the lead accompaniment on The Music Works’ mass collaboration song Every Rainbow Drawn (with 20,000 plays on socials, so far). She is now attending further education in London where she plays with other students in a school band while continuing to play piano and saxophone in the National Open Youth Orchestra. Ashleigh is also supported by the South West Music School and at the moment is their only young disabled student.
On the 27th of September, 2020, Ashleigh played a set at the Amber Trust’s 25th Anniversary concert in London, attended by the charity’s Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. The Amber Trust has supported Ashleigh for the last four years and continues to aid Ashleigh with the cost of her music lessons.
‘We are very grateful for the assistance given to Ashleigh by everyone at The Music Works and we know Ashleigh looks forward to and enjoys her time at the studio very much’
Steve & Christine, Ashleigh’s parents.