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And the (Disabled) Band Played On

Inspiring doc shows there are no 'handicaps' to making beautiful music together

It's hard enough to get 29 people to work together. Harder still when they're of different ages, races, genders, abilities, temperaments, cultures, religions, and more. Harder still to pull such a variety of humankind together and get them working in synch, creating a product – no, a work of art – that is nothing short of a masterpiece. Now, add one final challenge: All 29 of those people are disabled.

But that's just what Javier Pena has pulled off with the Spirit of Goodwill Band, a group of disabled adults in South Florida who truly are making beautiful music together. Pena, the director, is clearly a skilled musical leader, but it's his sensitive, patient, almost magical touch with these differently challenged adults that is a wonder to behold. Pena's story, and that of the musicians in his group, is chronicled in For Once in My Life, which aired earlier this year on PBS's Independent Lens and is now available on DVD.

The band – which includes percussion, brass, keyboards, guitars, and ...

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