When was the last time you saw a musician with Down’s Syndrome?
Sadly we don’t see a lot of people with an extra chromosome in the mainstream media. But fortunately, in recent years, there has been an attempt to change that.
Rob Mullen, a music teacher, is one of those people working tirelessly to change perceptions.
The teacher has been helping students with learning difficulties, including those born with Down’s Syndrome to learn how to play instruments, sing, and even rap.
The 42-year-old from Hamilton, New Zealand has performed a number of hit singles with students. His duet cover of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars with one of his students garnered a huge response online.
Rob with his student Robyn (Picture: Rob Mullen / Caters News Agency)Through his work, Rob has helped those who had never even considered a musical future to become musicians.
One of his star pupils, Alex Johnsen, 27, who has Down’s Syndrome, went viral after singing with the teacher on their cover of the Snow Patrol song.
‘Alex is definitely the lead singer,’ said Rob. ‘My job is to sit back and support him and help him to focus.
Rob teaching student Glen how to play drums (Picture: Rob Mullen / Caters News Agency)‘Almost immediately when Alex and I started working together, I recognised that there was so much potential with this guy.
‘Since Alex and I made the Chasing Cars video late last year, which went completely viral and blew our minds, others that I work with have expressed interest in making videos of their own.
‘What I love about working with people and music is seeing the joy, confidence and happiness music has the ability to bring out in people.’
Rob has been working with people with learning difficulties for around 17 years, but it was only less than a year ago that he started working specifically with music.
The songs the group play are chosen jointly by Rob and his pupils.
Rob teaching student Julian how to play the drums (Picture: Rob Mullen / Caters News Agency)Alex, who also enjoys playing the harmonica, said: ‘Rob has been my friend, he’s been my tutor – he has been here since the start.
‘My future plan is to go travelling with music, make an album, and live my dream.
‘I feel really excited from the things that I’ve done. You always have to believe in yourself – the world is with you.’
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