TEACHERS described the huge transformation when a pupil with learning difficulties found music — culminating in him writing the school’s VE Day song.
Thomas Knapp (11), who is on the autism spectrum, was introduced to the guitar at Christmas by Bramley Sunnyside Junior staff — and has barely put it down since.
Teaching assistant Dan Brown taught him chords and riffs before beginning a songwriting project to mark the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end in Europe.
Now Thomas has performed his original piece — called War Is Over — for all his fellow Year 6 pupils and taught others how to sing it.
Click play to hear a group of Year 3s performing the song.
Class teacher Richard Jackson said: “This has been a big, life-changing thing for Thomas. He’s traditionally been quite disengaged with the curriculum.
“It is heart-warming that, when children are allowed to follow their newly-found passions, true learning and surprising results are achieved.
“Thomas walks everywhere with his guitar. He’s so keen and animated, he feels good about something and he has the skill of playing an instrument. Plus it’s pretty cool anyway to play guitar.”
It started with a science project about sound, which involved Thomas making a guitar model from cardboard and strings.
Dan taught him chords and riffs like Smoke On The Water on a real guitar after the youngster’s interest had been piqued.
“We saw his interest and just ran with it,” said Mr Jackson. “Thomas really began to focus quite dramatically on it.
“He’ll sit in the corner and practice over and over and demonstrate to other children, which has really helped his self esteem. I’ve heard him from my desk before and thought it was Dan playing.
“Thomas doesn’t particularly enjoy writing. But with VE Day coming up, Dan had the idea for Thomas to put down the four or five chords he knew and write a song around them.
“They began to put words together about the end of the war and the celebrations.”