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Sensory-Friendly Concert offered for families with special needs

SUBMITTED PHOTO - A musical petting zoo, where children can touch instruments will be held after the Sensory-Friendly Concert Feb. 21.

Portland Wind Symphony and the music therapy program at Marylhurst University will present a Sensory-Friendly Concert at 3 p.m. Feb. 21 at St. Anne’s Chapel on the Marylhurst campus. While this performance is ideal for anyone whose sensory needs make a regular concert setting difficult, everyone is welcome.

The Portland Wind Symphony will perform works by the late Australian composer Percy Grainger, American composer John Williams and more, in an environment that is comfortable and nonjudgmental.

n Lights are up in the performance hall.

n Volume is lower, and sound level is consistent.

n Audience members are free to talk, leave their seats and may borrow props such as scarves.

n Audience members may bring/use headphones.

n Special activities include a “musical petting zoo” for youth.

n Social stories may also be available to prepare a child for the performance.

“A social story is an individualized story that describes concrete aspects of an event — the who, what, where, when and why — in a clear and reassuring manner,” says music therapist Emily Ross, owner of Self Express Music Therapy Studio. “The idea of a social story for the Sensory-Friendly Concert is about helping all audience members cope with potential anxiety in a new situation.” Ross teaches and supervises music therapy interns and practicum students at Marylhurst, and she plays the French horn in the Portland Wind Symphony. To request a social story, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Marylhurst music therapy students will be on hand throughout the event to welcome and support audience members during the concert. Following the concert, the students will offer information about music therapy, while conducting a “musical petting zoo” for children.

To help ensure the event is accessible to all, there is no cost. Donations to Portland Wind Symphony are gratefully accepted to cover event costs.

The Portland Wind Symphony was founded in 1988 by Dr. Daniel Cole. Cole began the group at Marylhurst as the Marylhurst Wind Ensemble. In the decades since, the symphony has grown to serve the entire Portland metropolitan region, provided a dedicated and every-expanding audience with novel musical performances of all types of wind ensemble literature.

Marylhurst University is located at 17600 Pacific Highway, between Lake Oswego and West Linn.