Being in lockdown hasn’t stopped @PortlandCollege learner Jess enjoying her music, in fact, it’s meant she’s been able to spend more time developing her skills.

Ever since she was a child Jess and her family have enjoyed listening to music, and as she and her sisters grew older, performing music in various forms became a larger part of her life. Although Jess enjoyed the music and her passion grew, she wasn’t able to join in with performing along with her two sisters due to her cerebral palsy disability.

As Jess moved into her late teens, she got involved with the Able Orchestra, a group which brings disabled students from across North Nottinghamshire together with emerging music leaders and a vast amount of developing technology to create and perform music on equal terms, regardless of their physical dexterity or musical experience. It was through the Able Orchestra (which is co-produced with Inspire Youth Arts), that Jess was able to perform in places such as the Royal Albert Hall in London, and express herself fully.

Through the orchestra, Jess came in contact with Si Tew from a company called Digit Music, and together they have created an innovative controller, called Control 1, which is based on the joystick of an electric wheelchair and allows users to create and perform music.

Jess says; “The Control 1 has helped me develop and express my musical talents, appreciating the work that goes into playing a musical instrument, after hearing others experience but now fortunate to be able to play myself, I have a deeper level of understanding of the dedication you have to put in.”

Due the Control 1’s technology, Jess has been able to continue with her love of music during these lockdown times.

“I have been using Control 1 during the coronavirus outbreak in many different ways, for example, I'm developing my skills of being able to play songs that I've written independently and develop more confidence within my playing. I'm also able to look at music I enjoy listening to and with support of the Digit music team, having that ability to play the song from the controller by picking an instrument to play, along with the song.

“I’m also very fortunate to be able to create music alongside, my siblings. This allows us to bring our love in music together, bring us close as a family during this difficult season.”

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Along with her music, Jess has also been continuing with her college learning at home, with her tutors providing online and offline activities to create. Jess has also taken part in Student Council meetings (for which Jess is one of the Social Media representatives) via video call with her peers and Portland College staff.

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