Expressing emotions through music is a paramount part of working with people with special needs. During the pandemic, the BenAnna Band (Ben Norton & Anna Delgado) took extra care to reach out to their young charges on Long Island, first through remote sessions and eventually with in-person sessions. They have released a new EP, Together With the BenAnna Band, with five songs that define their tactile “experience through interactivity” methodology.
The duo (a couple in real life) met while studying music therapy at Molloy College in Rockville Centre. After graduation, Ben and Anna worked with students with a wide range of special needs diagnoses. After finding success using music as an instructional tool, Ben suggested to Anna that they formalize their arrangement as a children’s music act – hence the BenAnna Band came into existence.
With years of experience working with pupils with special needs, Ben and Anna adapt their live performances to achieve the best response, based on the functional level of their audiences. Their songs cover their own adventures and friendships, while stressing that people experience things differently. As “Sunshine (My Song)” explains:
I can be strong, there’s strength in who I am
And who I am when I’m shining bright is who I’ll be again
I can choose who I want to be today
And tomorrow I’ll choose again.
Emotions and self-regulation are the theme of “Rainbow Breath,” as stress reduction is a key component when interacting with children with special needs. Body control and movement take center stage on “Rhythm Song Clap Along” and “Shake Shake Shake and Stop.” EP closer “Never Smelt A Sour Smelling Flower” reminds kids that everyone can make a valuable contribution and “be the best of flowers.” Together, Ben and Anna hope to reach listeners and families to share their messages, and many will find the BenAnna Band has a definite appeal.
Born and raised in New York (with a brief sojourn in New Jersey during his preteen years), Jeffrey Cohen lives in New York with his two sons. He has reviewed children's music for the past 14 years on his own blog. Jeff's podcast, "MrJeff2000 Explains It All" is available through iTunes.