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"I have only known a few outstanding teachers in my time and Ben is one." Dale Brown-Headteacher, Lioncare Education

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Latest...Barnaby Beck's music video Crying Shame selected for international film festival Oska Bright!
See below for the latest video releases from Mango Mammals Records, our disability-led record label.

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​Bespoke and therapeutic music programmes catering for a wide range of needs and abilities

A record label showcasing the incredible music of disabled artists. Created by the artists themselves and facilitated by SMS.

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Ben Eakins


Specialist Music Service

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Specialist Music Service offers an alternative to mainstream education. We work with students with a wide range of varied and complex needs. Through tailored courses and a unique environment our learners are supported to access community, opportunities and creativity in order to re-connect with their educational journey.

Our staff team of Specialist Teachers and Education Mentors are highly skilled in both the areas of SEND/MH and the creative industries. We specialise in engaging children and young people who are hard to reach with bespoke programmes. These programmes enable our learners to grow in confidence, gain academic achievements and creative abilities while developing social and emotion skills and well being.  



In 2016 Ben Eakins founded the Specialist Music Service Brighton, a multi-disciplinary music service offering bespoke and therapeutic music sessions, professional musical tuition and music industry opportunities. This service caters to a wide range of need and ability, providing meaningful experiences and opportunities


Ben is a singer songwriter, producer and qualified teacher. Previous . He is passionate about the therapeutic value of music, particularly its unique ability to engage, enable and empower people with physical and learning disabilities.  

Prior to SMS, Ben was Head of Music at St John's College, Brighton (A Non Maintained Specialist College for students with varied and complex needs).   


SMS is well connected to Brighton's thriving musical scene, both in the mainstream and the disabled communities, with the aim to remove barriers between the two. The service provides disabled musicians mainstream opportunities and links mainstream musicians and audiences to disability led music.

Industry innovation: Facilitated by SMS service users created Mango Mammals, an exciting new record label created by disabled artists for disabled artists. Click the record label tab to learn more...


The SMS approach:

All programmes are highly differentiated depending on need but most follow a therapeutic or artist development vein.  


In a therapeutic context Ben is a proponent of Intensive Interaction, Son-Rise, Speech and Language, Improvisational and Songwriting methods when working with more profoundly disabled service users. However it is fundamentally about building relationships and providing enriching experiences. Ben has seen many successes in this regard, to name a few: 


-Heightened engagement, communication skills and enjoyment 

-Spontaneous speech in service users with echolalia

-Vast improvement in social and emotional well being 

-Positive behavioural changes and greater focus

- Increased physical movement

Artist Development and Music Industry Experience

Whether or not service users have additional needs there is always the opportunity to develop as an artist or creator with SMS. This is may be through one or all of the following: the development of musical proficiency, songwriting, gig and recording opportunities and promotion/ distribution through the record label. Many students are now regularly writing, recording and gigging. A student recently attained the DRAKE music Emergent Artist Commission. The wonderful thing about the creation of an in house record label is that artists support other artists in their releases, while learning valuable industry skills such as creating professional recordings, software and videography skills and online PR. As a result embedded learning includes: literacy, language, IT and maths. 

Work experience

SMS is continually working to grow its links with the wider community to allow service users access to meaningful work experience opportunities when needed. Current opportunities include: music teaching assistant, record label directors, communications officer, multimedia editor, gig promoter, recording engineer and rehearsal studio assistant.

Service partners and Stakeholders:

Small Pond Records: A recording studio and record label who have been invaluable in providing a professional environment and music industry experience for service users 

Carousel: A charity also focusing on supporting disabled people through music. They provide gig opportunities and community involvement 

Grace Eyre: A day centre for people with disabilities that support teaching assistant work experience opportunities 


Local Authorities : Most learners are funded through their local authority particularly to address EHCP needs.



"Ben has worked with my son for over five years, on a one to one basis and also facilitating his participation in small groups. Through his encouragement and professional support my son has developed his creative skills as well as his confidence in performing.  Together they have worked on original songs, launched an EP, formed a band, attended summer schools, performed at gigs and festivals, developed DJ skills, performed acoustically on radio shows, created an online presence and completed a portfolio of work for Silver and Gold Arts Awards.  Ben’s approach is genuinely inclusive - gently challenging barriers that might otherwise prevent disabled artists from showcasing their musical talents.  Always positive, always drawing out innate creativity, always ambitious for those he works with - my son has found his voice and will be heard." Karen Walkden  (Parent)​

"Whilst taking part in a creative process is of itself very valuable and enjoyable, the sessions with Ben have given my son so much more than that.They have taught him how to work collaboratively and reliably with others, to respect and celebrate not only his own work but the work of others. To find self worth and confidence in his abilities and pride in working on and completing something and then having the option of performing it. Most importantly music and songwriting have given him the means and fluency to express his thoughts and feelings. It has literally given him a voice." Lesley Beck (Parent).

"I have only known a few outstanding teachers in my time and Ben is one. He has made such a big impact in such a short time." Dale Brown: Headteacher, Lioncare Education

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The Studio


Most sessions are held at Small Pond Rehearsal and Recording studios in central Brighton. The environment is relaxed and professional offering access to state of the art equipment


Small Pond Studios

27 Castle Street






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