‘Music is for everyone’: Sensory-friendly concert lets students with intellectual differences enjoy classical tunes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The North Florida School of Special Education banded together with the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville to host the inaugural Sensory Sensitivity concert, a free outdoor sensory-friendly event.

NFSSE is a school for students with intellectual and developmental differences ages 6 to 22. The school provides a safe place for the students to “learn, thrive, and become the best versions of themselves.”

“We really want to help them grow into the best version of themselves. The outdoor sensory-friendly concert was an idea brought here by the civic orchestra, and we loved the idea,” Music teacher, Ciaran Sontag told News4JAX.

Nadine Terk is the founder of the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville and said the nonprofit’s mission is to provide “symphonic music for all.”

“We are a volunteer community orchestra,” Terk said. “We realize that there’s a large sector of our community that hasn’t been able to attend our concerts.”

Sontag called the partnership with the orchestra “amazing” since many of their students don’t receive opportunities like this.

“It’s so incredibly important that we present more opportunities because music is for everyone,” Sontag said. “Music expresses so many different emotions. Our students are no different, people with intellectual differences are no different. They feel the whole range of emotions.”

“There’s no question that music is incredibly therapeutic, so our conductor Margarite was working with Ciaran to develop a program that I think would feel safe,” Terk said.

This is the first of many concerts that people with intellectual differences will be able to experience. The next concert is May 7.