The Abilities Without Boundaries (AWB) Music Program Band is back performing in public after a two-year absence due to COVID-19. Cheshire based nonprofit AWB provides group work opportunities and day support programs for adults ages 22 to 80 with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As part of its programming, AWB created a music therapy program which includes in-house programs and public performances. Amanda Barnes, AWB executive director, said, “In our music room hangs a banner reading, ‘When words fail, music speaks.’ We see over and again how music reaches even our non-verbal individuals. Performing boosts confidence for our individuals and helps the public better understand their capabilities. We hope this in turn leads to more work opportunities for our individuals.”
The band is composed of AWB individuals led by their teacher, Cheshire musician John Ingrassia. Its last public performance was March 7, 2020, at the Cheshire Library. The first Connecticut case of COVID-19 was announced the very next day. (It wasn’t anyone involved with the concert.)
Performing in public means so much to the band members. It is part of their music therapy. They feel part of their community. It is a way for them to contribute, according to Ingrassia. Now they’re back, Sunday, August 14, outdoors on the beautiful back lawn of restaurant Señor Pancho’s Prospect. They are one of five acts offering a free concert from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Señor Pancho’s will have its full menu available, with waitstaff, for those enjoying the music. The Prospect location is at 280 Cheshire Road.
AWB’s Music Program Band has performed for AWB board members, donors and spouses; at a Summer of Rock concert August 2019 with a variety of other rock and roll bands; at a holiday concert at Señor Pancho’s Prospect December 2019 and at the aforementioned Cheshire Library concert March 2020. Fundraising from their appearances supports purchase of instruments, lessons for the individuals, transportation and support staff required by some of the performers.
AWB is also looking for donations of used musical instruments. Ingrassia, Cheshire music teacher and rock-and-roll performer, worked with AWB staff to create a music program at the nonprofit.