Asperger’s Syndrome no barrier to music success for North Wales student

A SKILLED student overcame the challenges of Asberger’s Syndrome to achieve a first-class degree at one of the UK’s leading music institutions.

Ben Beattie, from Rhosllanerchrugog, Wrexham, will graduate from BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music) Institute in Manchester with a 1:1 in Professional Musicianship.

The 26 year-old has come a long way in the last decade; having left mainstream education aged 15 with no qualifications he attended Gwersyllt Support Centre while receiving help and guidance from the Dynamic Futures Project in Wrexham.

Introverted and lacking confidence, Ben began to play guitar and soon found he had a talent for the instrument – a career in music was all he wanted from that point forward.

With the backing of his family and friends, he went for an interview at Coleg Cambria Yale and was offered a place on the Level 3 Diploma in Music Performance provided he also studied for basic maths and English qualifications.

Ben agreed and from that point there was no stopping him as he passed the course and went on to become an accomplished blues, jazz, and metal player, with a little Midwest EMO thrown in for good measure.

Now searching for a role within the creative arena, Ben said: “At school I couldn’t speak to people, I couldn’t look them in the eye and found it hard to concentrate so it was a relief when finally got some help and was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at 18 years old.

“Before that I had felt quite lost and was almost written off by some people; I had no confidence at all, and it was only when I picked up an old acoustic guitar and began learning it that I found some real purpose.

“I have a good ear for music and am self-taught but when Dad heard me play, he suggested I take lessons and it went from there. I really wanted to study music but couldn’t see a way that would realistically work out for me, so I owe a lot to Dynamic and Coleg Cambria for all the support and encouragement I’ve received.”

Dad Terry added: “When I first saw him perform on stage at the college, he was the lead guitarist stood at the back with his head down.

“By the third concert he was right at the front with his held head high playing with confidence, that’s what Cambria did for Ben, and we will never forget it.”

Having achieved a Distinction, Ben was advised to apply for university, a step he never imagined he would ever take.

“I left school with nothing but was so committed to the course and learning to read music and all about the subject; but moving away to begin a higher education was not something I thought would ever happen to me,” he said.

“I had made some good friends at college, and they were also going to BIMM, so it was a natural next step and made me feel more comfortable. I’m so glad I did, I really enjoyed it and to achieve a 1:1 is incredible.

“I owe Cambria a lot, they nurtured me while I pushed myself on to achieve something special – I look forward to a career in the industry.”

BIMM is one of the top music colleges around and counts the bands Working Men’s Club, Pale Waves, and singer Ellie Dibben among its alumni.

Cambria lecturer Matt Henson is immensely proud of Ben’s achievement and said: “It was a pleasure to work with Ben during his three years with us, he always worked hard and tried his best to succeed, overcoming some challenging circumstances along the way.

“He was a very dedicated student whose passion for music and commitment to improving as a musician and as guitar player really shone through. His success is thoroughly deserved, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Clare BarnesDynamic Futures Project Coordinator, added: “Our Project supports young people in developing personal and independent living skills to support them to achieve their aspirations. Ben was a popular member of the project, and we are happy to have been part of his journey. We are very proud of Ben’s amazing achievement, and we wish him every success in his future.”

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