CNMN > Projects > Vancouver Adapted Music Society: Bridging Gaps and Reimagining What’s Possible

Bryden Veinot, Noah Stolte, Graeme Wyman

  • Open (def: scores for unspecified instrumentation)
  • Voice
  • Acoustic instruments
  • Rock band instruments
  • Digital devices
  • Adults

sessions can be drop-in or ongoing

  • Health

Vancouver Adapted Music Society: Bridging Gaps and Reimagining What’s Possible


Learn about the Van­cou­ver Adapt­ed Music Soci­ety (VAMS), Canada’s only ful­ly acces­si­ble record­ing stu­dio serv­ing the metro Van­cou­ver area. VAMS is a pro­gram of the Dis­abil­i­ty Foun­da­tion


About VAMS
VAMS offers music lessons, record­ing ses­sions, and live per­for­mance oppor­tu­ni­ties for dis­abled musi­cians in the metro Van­cou­ver area. VAMS was formed in 1988 by Sam Sul­li­van and Dave Syming­ton, two musi­cians who were involved in life-alter­ing acci­dents that changed the way they could play music. No two peo­ple have the same musi­cal jour­ney, so the focus of VAMS is to sup­port each unique musi­cian to achieve their musi­cal goals.


Bry­den Veinot is the pro­gram coor­di­na­tor of the VAMS, and togeth­er with pro­gram assis­tant Noah Stolte, they sup­port musi­cians with dis­abil­i­ties achieve their artis­tic goals. Graeme Wyman, pro­gram man­ag­er at the Dis­abil­i­ty Foun­da­tion, man­ages VAMS as well as oth­er programs. 

Fea­tured Activities

Music lessons: the pro­gram staff assess what is need­ed in the moment to adapt, such as plac­ing chord shapes onto the music for a client with a brain injury.

Record­ing: the staff are ‘musi­cal con­duits’ and the clients are the pro­duc­ers. The staff is there to bridge the gap so that musi­cians can record their music and real­ize their vision.


Live per­for­mance: staff pro­mote per­for­mance oppor­tu­ni­ties, and search for acces­si­ble venues for per­form­ers, includ­ing the build­ing itself and the loca­tion (close to transit).


Com­pe­ten­cies need­ed to do this work well

Rela­tion­ship Build­ing: Staff aim to make gen­uine con­nec­tions. Clients are able to be emo­tion­al­ly vul­ner­a­ble when trust has been built with the staff at VAMS through gen­uine con­nec­tions. This keeps the door open for cre­ativ­i­ty in a way that is authentic. 


Patience: VAMS staff need patience to fol­low and sup­port clients at their pace. VAMS staff need to under­stand the abil­i­ty of each client and adapt to match the client so they feel com­fort­able and validated. 


Adapt­abil­i­ty and Prob­lem Solv­ing: The staff have to find the best way to sup­port clients to get to their musi­cal goals. Some­times, VAMS can work with their sis­ter soci­ety Tetra to design adap­tive devices. Bry­den shows a gui­tar that can be strummed with a foot ped­al as an example. 


What Does Suc­cess Look Like?

Clients should feel like they are get­ting a pos­i­tive pro­fes­sion­al music expe­ri­ence, and clients should see progress in work­ing towards their music goals.

Suc­cess is build­ing aware­ness that fights the stig­ma against musi­cians with dis­abil­i­ties. This includes inte­gra­tion between the Van­cou­ver music scene and dis­abled com­mu­ni­ty in Van­cou­ver. The Strong Ses­sions is an event that pairs VAMS artists with local bands to per­form sets togeth­er as a way of sup­port­ing dis­abled musi­cians with­in the larg­er music scene.


Final­ly, what is abil­i­ty? Every per­son that comes through the door has incred­i­ble abil­i­ty to make music. VAMS staff try to remove bar­ri­ers for clients to reach their musi­cal goals, to ‘re-imag­ine what’s possible.’


View sec­tions of the documentary: 

00:24 Intro­duc­tion of VAMS Musi­cians
Overview of the Pro­gram
Fea­tured Activ­i­ties
What Does Suc­cess Look Like?


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