Our special schools projects are led by freelance musicians who have an enormous amount of experience in working with children who have additional needs. Assisting them are young musicians who are at an earlier stage in their careers, but who have typically completed postgraduate study in community music. Our ‘bank’ of musicians is growing steadily; meet a few of them here.

Sarah AtterSarah Atter

Sarah Atter is an award-winning Manchester-based musician with extensive experience of devising and delivering education and community projects, alongside student and teacher training, large-scale residencies and consultancy work. She works across a variety of fields including music in healthcare, music in the community, music in education, music in criminal justice and collaborative cross-art form projects. Sarah works both as an independent practitioner and in partnership with organisations including Manchester International Festival, Manchester Camerata, Streetwise Opera, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Music in Prisons. Sarah also lectures at The University of Manchester, RNCM, and designs and delivers artist development training for TiPP and Chetham’s School of Music. As a flautist, Sarah works across the country in orchestras and chamber ensembles, and inspires the next generation, teaching flautists of all ages.

Andy BakerAndy Baker

Andy Baker enjoys a varied and interesting musical career making all kinds of music with all kinds of people. As a freelance double bass player, he has performed with many of the UK’s leading orchestras, both playing and leading hundreds of outreach projects as a ‘Community Musician’. As a music educator, he works regularly in mainstream education and with children with additional needs, and has recently developed a programme of work for children of all ages on the Autistic Spectrum. He has also formed an orchestra for people living with Dementia which was featured on BBCTV. He plays guitar, bass guitar and piano in rock and jazz bands and his work with HMP Verne inmates was nominated for a prestigious RPS National Award. He also coaches and leads workshops for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Jess BakerJess Baker

Jess Baker is a community musician and singer songwriter. She has worked in community, mental health and SEN settings for 14 years following a Masters in Community music, always with a focus on wellbeing and fun. Jess has studied improvised voice on an international programme with Rhiannon (of Bobby McFerrin’s touring group Gimmie 5). Jess is a qualified vocal health first aider, has Vocal Process teacher training and singing for lung health training with The Musical Breath. Jess performs with Endorphinmachine Prince Tribute, The Yellow Goose Dance Band, and writes original songs using voice and electronics under the name Kaninchen

Chris BartramChris Bartram

Chris has worked extensively as a musician in a wide variety of education and community settings. For many years he was a senior lecturer in music at York St John University, where he led the community music programme. He has also delivered numerous arts projects across the UK, including work for Jessie’s Fund, Sing Up, Opera North and Accessible Arts & Media. He currently specialises in singing for health and wellbeing, which includes leading the highly successful ‘A Cuppa & A Chorus’ sessions at the National Centre for Early Music, and directing ‘Communitas’, a choir for people who use mental health services, part of York St John University’s Converge programme. Chris is a professional multi-instrumentalist and vocalist with the alt-folk trio White Sail, playing guitar, trumpet, mandolin, recorders and percussion.

 Helen Beauchamp Helen Beauchamp

Helen has had a passion for music from an early age, playing piano, cello and singing and studied music at the University of Edinburgh. Here she delivered creative projects in specialist school settings for the first time and experienced first-hand the positive impact and benefits that music can have for people with additional and complex needs. Helen then studied French Horn at the RNCM and has worked as a creative practitioner for a number of educational organisations. She also works as a composer, writing for voices and brass and to produce live and recorded music for theatre. She has toured throughout Europe and South America as an actor/musician and musical director.


 Elizabeth Bradley Elizabeth Bradley

Elizabeth started learning the double bass at age 14 and represented Scotland as a finalist in the Shell/LSO string competition whilst a student at the Royal Northern College of Music. She enjoys a varied freelance career, performing and recording with such groups as the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, studio recordings with Muse and chamber music with Configure8. Elizabeth has a Masters of Music Ethnomusicology from SOAS based on her particular interest in styles of string playing from around the world. Most recently as a bass player she has become part of the Music for Life team based at Wigmore Hall, which works with people with dementia through improvised music-making. She enjoys teaching double bass and being a mentor to young musicians at Junior Trinity.


Joe Harrison-GreavesJoe Harrison-Greaves

Joe is based in Manchester and has been working with music and people for nearly 20 years. Recently qualified as a music therapist, Joe’s work has always been about the power of music to connect people, and offer a powerful tool for personal and social wellbeing. Over the years Joe has worked in communities, education, and mental health settings with people from 0 to 100 years old. However, through his 12 year involvement with Jessie’s Fund, Joe’s work has specialised in working with people with additional needs, and has a particular interest in the development of accessible ensembles.


Ros HawleyRos Hawley

Clarinettist Ros is a music leader, trainer and consultant specialising in non-verbal musical interaction. Her work focuses on using a child centred approach to enable communication, interaction and expression through music, and is informed by over 15 years’ experience as Musician in Residence at Seashell Trust, a school for children and young people with complex communication needs. Ros has delivered music education, training and evaluation projects in health and disability contexts, including projects with the Hallé, The Royal Northern College of Music, MusikAlliansen (Sweden), Musique et Santé (Paris), Figura Ensemble (Denmark) and The Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus (Denmark) and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Ros has written a PhD (SOAS, University of London) and publications on her practice of making music with children in hospital, and is Co-founder and Co-creative Director of Songbirds Music UK CIC .

Katue HellerKatie Heller

Hello, I am Katie Heller, a violin/viola player who has been lucky enough to spend my whole life making music. Some days it will be engaging with babies and tots, other days creating songs with children or maybe discovering calm sounds with a youngster who just needs some peace. I play in orchestras too, enjoying Opera festivals with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the City of London Sinfonia and often sharing music in a variety of settings. During the pandemic, we found ways of recording music and sending it into care homes to try and reach residents who were very isolated. And with Jessie’s Fund, we were able to deliver live music sessions over the internet into special schools. I developed a whole new set of skills that I could not have imagined I would ever need! I really do feel that music helps us all in the world, whatever the genre, and I feel very privileged to be part of the creative wheel.

 David Insua-Cao David Insua-Cao

David studied percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music and graduated in 2008. Since then, he’s played with orchestras and opera in the UK, France and Lebanon, played samba in the Rio de Janeiro carnival and salsa in the bars of Havana, ran away to join Giffords Circus, toured with them for five years, and then corrió al Circo Raluy en España! For the past few years, Dave has been more involved with theatre, working with groups such as Ramshacklicious street theatre company. He has taught for Bristol, Warrington and Bath music services and run workshops for the RNCM wider opportunities projects and Live Music Now.


Ali MacAli Mac

Ali is a drummer and percussionist with a Jazz Studies degree from Leeds College of Music. Career highlights include signing as a co-writer and percussionist for Zimbabwean soul artist ‘Thabo’. He’s performed with numerous bands and show productions, including the UK tour of Disney’s The Lion King. He is proud to be a musician/accompanist at the prestigious Northern School of Contemporary Dance and The Lowry theatre. Ali enjoys creating musical activities to help encourage the self-expression and communication of young people with learning difficulties and multiple special needs. Ali has visited settings such as SEND schools, young offenders’ prisons and nursing homes, delivering interactive performances, one-to-one sessions, staff training events and workshops.

Hannah McCabeHannah McCabe

Hannah McCabe is a diverse musician whose career as a clarinet and sax player includes work with Manchester Camerata, Sinfonia Cymru, Opera North, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, The Unthanks, BBC Folk Awards, Kabantu, Giffords Circus and live broadcasts on BBC radio 3, BBC radio 2 and television. Developing inclusivity, access and engagement within the Arts is a valued strand of her career and Hannah works with a range of organisations to design and deliver creative outreach projects with different communities. Her work focuses on delivering participant-led creative projects alongside staff training and mentoring. In 2014, Hannah was appointed Fellow in Creative and Professional Practice at the Royal Northern College of Music and in 2015 she was made Senior Lecturer of Clarinet at Leeds Conservatoire.

 Laura ReavleyLaura Reavley

Laura is a Community Musician, Teacher, Early Years and SEND Music practitioner from Northumberland. Following a Degree in Community Music at Sage Gateshead she has worked extensively across the North East with all ages and abilities for over 12 years. As well as working with Jessie’s Fund as an Early Years SEND Musician, she is a Woodwind and Piano player who teaches in a variety of settings. She is the Musical Director for Sax on the Tyne and Singing Lead with the Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) Singers, a staff singing ensemble based at the RVI Newcastle. She also delivers music activities for those affected by Dementia and Alzheimer’s.


Emma RichardsEmma Richards

Emma Richards is a violist, educator and community musician. She is a specialist in the creative and person-centred use of music in special schools, hospitals, prisons and community settings. She was trained by Musique et Santé and LIME Music for Health and went on to work for many years in Manchester Children’s Hospital, delivering music on the wards and by the bedside. As a performer, she freelances with orchestras across the UK and specialises in contemporary music, working in collaboration with composers and championing new and lesser-known works for the viola. She has worked for Jessie’s Fund since 2017 and loves working with the students and teachers she has met on projects. She is currently teaching herself the ukulele so that she can pursue her love of singing folk music.

Tom ShermanTom Sherman

Tom is a musician, music leader, trainer and composer. He studied Jazz at Leeds Conservatoire and uses improvisation as a core principle for creating shared musical experiences. Tom has extensive experience working with vulnerable people in many settings, including special schools, healthcare environments, prisons, secure units and in the community. One of his long-term projects in a community setting involves supporting young people with additional needs to write their own music and perform on stage with their peers. Tom endeavours to bring these principles of creativity and inclusion to all of his work as a musician.

 Stef TepperStef Tepper

Stef is a music therapist currently based in London. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and have over ten years of experience working in schools and other settings such as hospitals, day care centres and care homes. She feels privileged to work for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Discovery Department, where she is involved in the programme for children in the Royal London Hospital and numerous creative outreach projects in specialist schools. She currently works with young people with multi-sensory impairment in a specialist school in South London as well as leading sessions with families and adopted children. She plays the flute and piano and loves to discover new music from all around the world.


Aimee ToshneyAimee Toshney

Scottish singer, pianist, animateur, choir-leader and teacher, Aimee loves helping others to find their voice. After graduating from the University of Glasgow, the RNCM and English National Opera’s ‘Opera Works’ scheme, she has enjoyed a varied career working in education and outreach with organisations including the RSNO, the RCS Junior Conservatoire, NYCOS, Luminate, Jessie’s Fund, The Citizen’s Theatre, HMP Barlinnie, Alzheimer’s Scotland and Armonico Consort, amongst others. Other experience includes BBC Proms in the Park, coaching the National Girls’ Choir of Scotland and presenting for the Scottish Association for Music Education. Awards include an Evening Times Community Champion award for work within dementia care units and the Action for Children’s Arts Members’ Award 2019 for Discovering Lieder, which has now introduced over a thousand primary-aged children to classical music.

Sam VicarySam Vicary

Sam is a bassist, composer and music facilitator based in Manchester, UK. He has performed internationally with numerous artists, including The Cinematic Orchestra (Ninja Tune), Kandace Springs (Blue Note Records) and Manu Delago. He has been fortunate enough to perform at some esteemed venues and events, including the Walt Disney Hall (LA), The Royal Albert Hall and Later with Jools Holland. Sam is passionate about improving the accessibility of music creation. He has been performing, running workshops and helping create music curriculums in SEN settings through the charitable organisations Jessie’s Fund and Live Music Now. Most recently, Sam has been producing a number of interactive videos to be used as sensory aids in the home for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Sam is also a senior lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire and an external assessor at The Royal Northern College of Music.

Andrea VoglerAndrea Vogler

RNCM graduate Andrea enjoys a varied portfolio career as a percussionist. As a creative practitioner the focus of her work is using music as a means of communication, and workshop highlights include writing and recording wake-up calls for NASA’s International Space Station. Andrea has worked with Jessie’s Fund since 2013 and was part of the team that created their interactive video resources. She trains and mentors for Live Music Now and is a founder member of Manchester Camerata’s Music in Mind team. She has worked with a range of ensembles and artists including the Hallé Orchestra and Noisy Toys Robotic Orchestra, and toured the world performing. She is the Director of RNCM Young Percussion, and the recipient of an RNCM Teaching and Learning Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in teaching and learning.

Mark WithersMark Withers

Mark Withers has worked with Jessie’s Fund since the early days of the charity. He leads training work for hospice and special school staff and is involved in the charity’s work in hospitals, as well as the programme in schools. Away from Jessie’s Fund, he works both as a clarinettist and as a leader of creative projects. Mark leads LSO Create at the London Symphony Orchestra and collaborates regularly with orchestras, opera companies and conservatoires around Europe. Since 2010, Mark has been associated with the Aix-en-Provence Festival for whom he has designed numerous pieces. He also directs their training programme taking young artists into the wider community. You can find out more at