Tonight on PBS, at 10pm (check local listings), Independent Lens will be showing, For Once in My Life, the amazing story of the Spirit of Goodwill band, an inspiring and unique 29 member band composed of people who are blind, autistic, suffer from down syndrome, schizophrenia and various other issues. The documentary chronicles the band’s rehearsal as they get ready to perform in front of all the Mayors in the United States in Miami, Florida.
I was honored to see it couple of weeks ago and it was one of the most inspiring documentaries that I have seen in a long time. The documentary does a great job at showing how the band practices and gives the viewers the chance to know more about the lives of these talented musicians. There is a scene in the documentary where students from an elementary school tour the Spirit of Goodwill and when they are taken to the music room, they get a chance to hear the band perform. At first, the students are just observing, not knowing what to do then they are taken by the sound of the music and they start dancing. It is such a beatiful scene. During the Q & A, one of the girls asks Terry, “how did people treat you when they knew you were blind?” Terry responds, “I’m like any other human being.”
There is another scene when David is talking about wanting to get married and it doesn’t matter what disability he has. David is also one of the vocalist from the band.
There is also another scene when Javier, the music director addresses one of the woman and tells her, “your face is a reflection of your heart.” Javier was informing her that she had to change her face expression and show more enthusiasm when she is performing. Javier more or less went on to say that people will be seeing her and through her face expression, the audience would be seeing a reflection of her inner being. That quote is one of the most beautiful quotes I have come across. When I was watching the documentary, it was that quote that was in the back of my mind as I watch the remaining of the film.
I don’t want to give the film away, but I highly recommend people watching it. It is the story of how music is a therapeutic tool in the lives of these individuals. It doesn’t matter if one is blind or autistic, but if they have the dream of one day playing an instrument, this film demonstrates that they too can become great musicians.
For Once in My Life, will make you want to dance, sing and will definately make you laugh and cry. If you are unable to see it, try purchasing it so you can see it with your family and friends. They will not be disappointed.
Here is further information about the band. This information was taken from the PBS website:
Meet the Spirit of Goodwill band — a unique assembly of singers and musicians who live with varying degrees of physical and mental disability. They bond over their mutual love of music, and their fierce drive to improve and play to ever-larger audiences.
The 29 members of the band live with everything from autism and Down syndrome, to blindness and other physical, mental, and developmental challenges. By day they work and socialize with one another at the Goodwill Industries of South Florida. That’s also where they rehearse their music with an eye toward playing sophisticated venues and garnering mainstream respect and accomplishment.
As their music becomes tighter and more harmonious, so too do their lives — a testament to the healing and empowering power of music, participation, cooperation, and friendship.
Terry, the blind lead singer and saxophone player who was dropped when he was fourteen months old never fully recovered physically. But emotionally, he is determined and inspirational, fighting through setbacks and frustrations as he prepares to unleash his voice in front of a live audience.
Christian, who has autism and is blind, reveals himself to be a gifted pianist. Even through a slight stutter, he eloquently describes his wish to become a famous musician beloved by the whole world.
Nancy, a character with her thick New York accent and sense of humor, is the high-functioning but developmentally delayed soprano in the band. She works at Goodwill and cares for her two mentally disabled siblings.
Sam’s mother tried to conceal her pregnancy after he was conceived, and as a result, he suffers from physical and mental issues that occasionally cause him to fly into a rage. A drummer, he is serious about his music and his life, and recently proposed to one of the vocalists, Patricia.
As they, Music Director Javier Pena, and the rest of the band struggle to prepare for a huge public concert, some have difficulty coping with the pressure or the pace of learning. But they support each other in a united effort to prove themselves as human beings and musicians.
To get a glimpse of the movie, check this website as you will be able to see a trailer and couple clips of the movie.