ILF Scotland

Tapping into talent on World Autism Day

Post Date: 1 April 2021

It has been heart-warming to see our ILF Scotland Transition Fund recipients not only get through the challenges of the past year, but thrive and explore new opportunities that may not have seemed possible until now.

Ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April, we caught up with Ryan Johnstone who used  ILF Scotland funding support to fuel his love for piano playing. Ryan has not only been able to refine his skills by taking lessons but is now sharing his gift with others through teaching students and wowing audiences with his live performances, all the while improving his confidence and happiness levels.

Hear Ryan share his inspiring story in his own words in this blog…

The year that was for Ryan!

I have enjoyed lockdown to some extent. I have done well with college, completing my HNC in Music and I am currently working towards completing my HND in Music. In particular, I have enjoyed the online promotion unit where I am making a website.

Online performances with the Irvine and Dreghorn Brass Band have been great – we came 3rd in August 2020 in the West of Scotland Entertainment Contest! It has made up for the lack of performances in person and I have recorded in the Gorbals recording studio to make my application for universities. I have also been teaching piano online and in-person during the pandemic. To get the word out, I made my own YouTube channel, Sound Cloud and advertised myself on social media, as well as songwriting!


How ILF Scotland support has helped  

I am very thankful for the ILF Scotland Transition Fund grant, which I’ve put towards my piano and trombone lessons. This has also supported my work towards my ABRSM Diploma. A highlight is that I have learnt the Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement by Beethoven.

I accessed funding to buy two AT2020 microphones and other recording equipment which have helped me to create my music pieces – it sounds even better than being in the room! I recently recorded, “The Man I Love” by Gershwin for university auditions. I also received some financial support for books which has made my teaching easier.


Improved skills and levels of confidence and happiness

The ILF Scotland Transition Fund grant has helped me in many ways. It has improved my digital recording skills and I am now more sociable as I am in contact with other members of the Brass Band. I have enjoyed being involved in decisions to do with ILF Scotland by taking part in surveys as a Young Ambassador and getting to know other ambassadors via the social media group.

These new experiences have made me feel more confident in myself as a person and in my musicianship and I am happier overall.


Plans beyond lockdown

When the lockdown lifts I plan to teach more pupils the piano and I want to take my current pupils to a higher level. My goal in 5 years is to be a peripatetic piano teacher in primary and secondary schools and to also teach privately.

Needless to say, this is a remarkable outcome for Ryan, a young man who like the 700,000 people in the UK living with Autism, faces challenges in everyday life that many of us take for granted. Despite everything that they have missed out on in life, ILF Scotland is helping young disabled people like Ryan to not only live a more independent life, but to try something new.


If you are thinking about applying to the ILF Scotland Transition Fund and would like to try something new, see here. For more on Ryan’s amazing journey with ILF Scotland click here

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