Episode 3: Dr Anthea Skinner 

Dr Anthea Skinner

Dr Anthea Skinner is an ethnomusicologist and McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Victorian College of the Arts. Her current research project, the Adaptive Music Bridging Program, is changing the lives of kids with disability.

An alumnus of Melbourne Youth Orchestras, Anthea Skinner and her team now put musical instruments in the hands, hearts and sometimes feet of children with disability.

Ableism, lack of access and opportunity are some of the barriers that may prevent a child from playing music.

Andrea played music from a young age, but as her disability developed, she had to change instruments.

Through the Adaptive Music Bridging Program, she wants to introduce children to instruments they can have a lifelong relationship with, that will continue to meet their needs, and help embed musicality deep within.

Today, instruments can be adapted thanks to liberating technological advancements.

From smaller adaptations, like reversing a violin for a child who only has good use of one hand, to the ‘magic flute’ which works via computer that triggers notes by eye gaze.

The program gives Anthea an opportunity to share the power, pleasure and potential of playing music.

Music is her life, her profession and her passion. She is a multi-instrumentalist, and outside of work plays drums in all-disabled band, the Bearbrass Asylum Orchestra. She jokes: “…but you know, I don’t sing…let the drummer sing, said no-one ever.”

What is undeniable is her fundamental connection to music. It is an essential part of her life, and through the varied facets of her academic work, she is sharing its gifts and inspiring a new generation.

Music is how you tell stories. Music is how you remember things. It’s really vital to being human. Making music is what humans do.