It may not seem like a big thing to many but for this young singer it is very close to a miracle. Singing with Down syndrome is very difficult, but Madison Telvin refused to allow any disability to cause her dreams to diminish. According to Down Syndrome Education International, only a few people who have this disorder will ever have the ability to sing. Amazingly, this 12-year-old has defied the odds and hopes to inspire others just like her.
People with Down syndrome often have gruff and low voices which require twice as much effort to activate their vocal cords. This has not deterred the ambition of Madison who has set out to inspire people with her singing. Recently her YouTube video of John Legend’s All of Me went viral. Madison picked the song because she loves Legend so much that she even memorized all the words. The lyrics of the song speak to her courage and confidence with lines such as, “…all your perfect imperfections.”
In this moving video Madison shares with her viewers that she wants to affect and inspire people with her talent. She uses vocal techniques to strengthen her voice. Madison has not only defied statistical odds by expressing her vocal gifting but has done so just by the fact that she is alive. Many parents are afraid to give birth to children with special needs and therefore abort the baby following their prenatal diagnosis. Madison wants to demonstrate to the world that a person with Down syndrome has the ability to lead a normal life in spite of their diagnosed difficulties.
One mother of a 13-year-old daughter with Down syndrome states that singing and making music has both elements of enjoyment and learning. This mother, Judy Barker, said these are essential methods of reinforcing the basic skills involved in literacy and numeracy. She added:
While this reinforcement is useful to all children, regardless of their academic abilities, my own experiences in the classroom and as the mother of a child with Down syndrome tell me that it is vital to children with learning difficulties.
Barker believes singing and music stimulate auditory discrimination, which is one of the most important facets of learning. This is significant for all children but especially for those with learning difficulties such as Down syndrome. The most basic reinforcement singing brings is repetition. It gives children the privilege of repeating words and phrases in a joyful manner which speech alone does not. Children can become so engrossed in singing that they do not even realize they are learning by repeating the same words continuously.
Children with Down syndrome learn at a slower pace than children who do not have the disability. Songs provide a unique benefit to learning the proper way to construct sentences and phrases in a way that becomes much more memorable. Singing also provides the added advantage of greater mouth movement and better articulation. An example would be the ease people find when it comes to singing in a foreign language without possessing the ability to speak that language.
These facts relative to Down syndrome explain how remarkable Madison’s performance truly is. The video of her singing has garnered millions of views in nearly two weeks. The video is both informational and entertaining as young Madison Telvin explains her reason for sharing her talent and then begins to belt out Legend’s All of Me with heart and personality as her vocal coach accompanies her on the piano.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)