Artist Training Program

Xenia Concerts Artist Training Program

We started this project for one simple reason: they don’t teach this stuff in music school! Musicians train for thousands of hours to hone their craft, but don’t necessarily learn about the diverse considerations that go into planning an accessible, neurodiversity-friendly performance. We are filling that gap.

In partnership with Erin Parkes, PhD, Xenia Concerts has developed a neurodiversity-focused Artist Training Program. Now, in partnership with The Lotus Centre for Special Music and Education and Autism Canada, we are training musicians to design and deliver adaptive concert experiences across Canada.

The training helps artists understand a diverse spectrum of abilities and sensory experiences so that they can design events that are inclusive and welcoming for neurodiverse audiences. Our long-term vision is to help artists and arts organizations across Canada make their concert experiences more neurodiversity- and disability-friendly.

Program Overview

The training program includes three main components:

  • 3.5 hours of pre-recorded webinars
  • A one-hour synchronous discussion session with Erin Parkes, Rory McLeod, and Bruce Petherick
  • A guidebook on how to design and deliver accessible, inclusive musical programming
  • Support in planning your adaptive concert program

Artists learn about…

Barriers to Inclusion: Challenges that prevent or dissuade participation in music performance for neurodiverse populations and those with disabilities, including physical, sensory, geographic, attitudinal, and financial barriers.

Language and Disability: Exploring various models of disability; understanding the importance of language use in the disability community; how to approach language issues with respect.

Basics of Common Diagnoses: Outline of the characteristics of diagnoses through a strengths-based lens, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities, FASD, and more.

Creating a Supportive Sensory Environment: Understanding differences in sensory processing for neurodiverse populations; adaptive strategies to support diverse sensory needs in the environment and concert program.

Communicating with Clarity: Discussing both verbal and non-verbal communication techniques to engage concertgoers with varying communication support needs.

The Adaptive Concert Experience: What to expect from the audience; managing the unexpected; balancing structure and flexibility.

Creative Engagement through Performance: Ways in which performers can engage with audiences with diverse needs through adaptive interactive activities.


Erin Parkes, PhD, Founder of The Lotus Centre for Special Music Education

Rory McLeod, Executive and Artistic Director of Xenia Concerts

Kayla Carter, Accessibility Coordinator of Xenia Concerts

Bruce Petherick, musician and creator of Acoustic Spaces in Calgary

Artists and Organizations We’ve Trained

Beth Silver, cello

Jenna Richards, piano

Jesse Stewart, percussion

Ladom Ensemble


Scotia Festival of Music

Thalea String Quartet

VC2 Cello Duo


What the Artists are Saying

“Performing through Xenia Concerts was a beautiful experience for me. There is no doubt that music can change lives. With Xenia Concerts, it is not only the audience whose lives stand to be impacted, but also those of the artists. Thank you so much for doing the important work you are doing and for the invitation to be a part of it.”

-Jesse Stewart, percussionist

“Xenia concerts’ training for artists regarding sensory friendly and inclusive performances is advancing accessibility and artistic practice in a necessary and meaningful way. The organization is clearly a leader in its field!”

-Member, Ladom Ensemble

Learn More

Want to learn more about the Xenia Concerts Artist Training Program or join an upcoming cohort? Contact Executive and Artistic Director Rory McLeod at or 647-896-8295.



The Lotus Centre for Special Music Education

Autism Canada

TO Live

A graphic of 3 logos boxed in a light blue square. The 3 logos are for TO Live, the Lotus Centre for Special Education, and Autism Canada



David Visentin
Rebecca Cook