Founded in 2009, Banding Together’s mission is to bring music opportunities to individuals with special needs in our community. This is accomplished through key objectives that include providing: music therapy scholarships, free Jam Session programs, mentorships, and instruments. To date, we have awarded 79 music therapy and adapted music lessons scholarships totaling $48,140. Since 2012, we have reached 158 individuals aged 13-24 in our Jam Session program, 56% who have autism. Unfortunately music-making experiences may not be available to individuals with special needs such as autism due to lack of financial resources. Often after age 22 the number of supported social and recreational services are very few. According to the California Department of Education, in 2010 there were approximately 57,273 individuals with special needs in San Diego County. Of that total, 23,544 are within are range of our programs.

Our goal is to continue to meet the needs of the underserved special needs population in our community through the following programs:

Jam Sessions: Banding Together’s FREE COMMUNITY Jam Session program has been bridging this gap for individuals with special needs such as autism at three locations in the local community (Point Loma, Carlsbad and El Cajon). Every year, we host one-hour music therapy groups (aka “Jam Sessions”) to promote socialization, emotional expression and communication. Each year we have 14 Jam Sessions in each location for a total of 42 Jam Sessions a year. Since 2009, we have had 94 Jam Sessions. Each Jam Session features a guest artist (a musician who is active in the local music scene) who wants to give back to youth and young adults with special needs. Board certified music therapists coordinate guest artists and facilitate Jam Sessions. Participants are strategically matched with a mentor and attend the group together. Mentors include high school, college students (typically involved in music or helping professions), and other professionals from the community who express an interest in wanting to volunteer and make a difference to those with special needs through music.

Music Therapy Scholarships: We provide 6-month weekly music therapy session scholarships (30 minutes) for individuals with special needs. Music therapy is an allied health profession that targets non-music goals in the areas of speech/language, social skill, sensorimotor and cognition/attention skills. Soundcheck Jam: Surfdog Records teamed up with Banding Together to provide a fun and unique initiative for teens and young adults with special needs to get on stage (usually at the Belly Up Tavern) and perform with notable artists. Past artist participants have included Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, The English Beat, Elvin Bishop, Michael Franti and the Olympic gold medalist and snowboarder/skateboarder Shaun White.