Marchese di Villabianca
Centre for Music and the Arts for Children and Young People with Disabilities
We believe that every person deserves to have equitable opportunities to live life to its fullest potential. Villabianca project is founded on the belief that all children and young people with disabilities have a right to culture and access to Music and the Arts.
Artistic expression can help individuals tap into and discover new pathways of communication. This imparts a strong sense of empowerment thereby facilitating one’s active participation in society. By adopting therapeutically informed methods, Villabianca supports children and young people with disabilities to find their musical self, nurture new skills and empower self-expression.
Some learn to play; others learn through play.
(Villabianca Creative Consultant)
How Villabianca came to be?
Villabianca was inaugurated on the 15th December 2021 with the support of Prof. Adv. Emmanuele F.M. Emanuele di Villabianca, Barone Di Culcasi (Fondazione Terzo Pilastro). It was officially opened by Alessia Bonnici (a musician on the autism spectrum), Matteo Valentino (music improviser with Leukodystrophy HABC), Melania Haegdorens (piano and violin player who loves singing and is blind), Quiven Ellul (piano player who is blind), and The
Equality in Music Group of the Downs Syndrome Association, in the presence of H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca the visionary and founder of this project and with the support of Prof. Adv. Emmanuele F.M. Emanuele di Villabianca, Barone di Culcasi (Fondazione Terzo Pilastro Internazionale).
Our story began in March 2021. H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca invited the now Villabianca Creative Consultant, Rosetta Debattista, for an online meeting following their introduction through Alessia Bonnici. Immediately, the realisation of a common and heartfelt mission synchronised: that of ensuring a much greater access to music and the arts to children and young people with disabilities. The following six months were critical in the setting up of Villabianca. They involved hard work done at speed to ensure that the centre would be set up professionally with solid foundations to meet its objectives, namely: to provide services, conduct outreach work and provide training opportunities for local practitioners. Villabianca became operational in November 2021.Equality in Music Group of the Downs Syndrome Association, in the presence of H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.
Today Villabianca continues to build on its pioneering work in Malta with children and young people with disabilities.
Villabianca constantly works to provide professional music sessions to children and young people with disabilities. It was set up with a solid foundation of operational procedures to meet the ethical and professional standards our service-users and their families deserve.
field of Arts and Disabilities.
Meet the Team
Villabianca Creative Consultant
Head of Services
Creative Music Practitioner
Arianne Spiteri Cremona
Creative Music Practitioner
Family Support Worker
Visiting Strings Specialist
Join us in making a difference and donate now to The Malta Trust Foundation, empowering lives and building a brighter future for all.
Disclaimer: The following narratives presented were written by members of staff who have direct therapeutic contact with John, Linda and Grace (not their real names).
After some time, John expressed an interest in the electronic music equipment present at Villabianca and began experimenting with synthesisers and loops. Feeling heard during these initial interactions supported John in becoming more comfortable Villabianca. Upon trusting the space and building a relationship with consistent boundaries, he became freer to explore what session could offer him.
It has been a privilege to watch John’s confidence grow. He now enters Villabianca and salutes ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to members of the team before and after his session. In his sessions John explores instruments and creates music freely, communicates expressively, and engages confidently. It has also been fantastic to see John take his music outside of Villabianca and play in a drumming group with his peers and family, expanding both his musical and social circles!
Grace is a lively six-year-old girl with a love of rhythm and music: her face lights up with curiosity and excitement as soon as she hears musical sound. Grace is also a wheelchair user with extremely limited ability to move her own limbs and no access to verbal language as a means of communication. When Grace is not feeling so good, she expresses her discomfort or pain with heartfelt crying which, at times, can feel inconsolable and hard to bear.
In her first Music Therapy session, Grace displayed an interest and awareness of new sounds that I played. The team was hopeful that she would enjoy coming for weekly sessions to Villabianca as this had the opportunity to expand her world by building a new relationship with someone, using music and sound as tools for interaction. During the first weeks, Grace would often cry and be inconsolable at some point during the session. However, as the relationship gradually became deeper, her periods of crying reduced. She began to follow sounds with her eyes as I moved a bell across her line of vision; she found a way to use her voice expressively in response to my voice, or even the sound of the flute! Most recently, Grace was surprised by a particular sound and laughed out loud. She feels the fun of a musical pause – she seems to tell me ‘When is that sound coming back, I want to hear it again NOW!’.
Her musical journey at Villabianca continues, revealing an understanding of communication and relationships which would have been hard to predict in those early days.
‘Villabianca has become a safe space for our son who is on the autism spectrum and suffers from anxiety. It is one of the few places he walks into confidently and independently because he knows he will be welcomed by people who are sensitive to his needs and respectful towards him. His time at Villabianca over the past year has been a journey of freedom. Here is a place where he can be who he is, where he will not be judged and where there are no mistakes to make. He is free to explore his inner self without constraints – the complete opposite of what society constantly imposes on him every other moment of his life. His Music Therapist is simply wonderful. Her sensitivity has been cathartic for him. Through music, our son (who has limited verbal abilities) and his Music Therapist, have been able to communicate much more than words could say. Having such a space and amazing team at Villabianca makes a huge difference in these young persons’ lives. Thank you!’
‘I’ll quote my daughter: “Mama I don’t just like Villabianca, I love it! I want to live at Villabianca!”
‘Truly professional tutors with a real know-how on how to interact with our child and
involve him. Beautiful, well-kept, and well-equipped premises, outstanding
‘Thank you for how you help the children/service-users feel safe, comfortable, supported and welcome!’
‘I have never seen such a positive attitude in my son compared to the other activities
he carries out.’
‘I am so glad I enrolled my son here. He loves it so much, he’s always asking me how
many days are left for the music session.’
parents. The place has a very welcoming and calming environment and the staff
always have a smile on their faces when welcoming you.’
‘Every Tuesday, my sister wakes up very keen to attend her Music Therapy session
here. Although she cannot verbalise this, we can tell she really enjoys it. This
exposure to music does her a world of good! This is such a wonderful team and such
a wonderful and much-needed project. Thank you for your patience, kindness,
dedication and truly excellent work!’
Of Service Users Were
With The Friendliness & Approachability Of Villabianca Members
Of Service Users Were
Satisfied or Very Satisfied
With The Overall Experince At Villabianca
Of Service Users Were
General Appreciation Of Music
Noted A Significant Positive Or Positive Effect In The Service