Corbin McKinnon lives in L’Arche Atlanta in Oakhurst where adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities live together in community. Corbin uses Braille to read a book, but he learns music by ear. His favorite pastime is jamming with the other residents. “They play guitar, ukulele, and I sing harmony. Music makes me feel good.”
When Corbin McKinnon was born, the doctors would never have imagined that one day he would excel at playing the bagpipes. Corbin was born prematurely at 28 weeks. He was at high risk for developing lung problems, but he beat the odds. Over time, he was able to develop the breath control needed to successfully play the bagpipes, the flute, and sing.
Corbin, who is also blind, reads books using Braille, but he learns music by ear. “I was inspired to learn the bagpipes after I heard them when I was 5. I liked the way they sounded and I fell in love with them. When I was 15, I started studying the bagpipes. They are definitely hard to play. I also play the drums and sing.”
His roots have been firmly planted in Decatur for all 28 years of his life. After attending Georgia Academy for the Blind for most of his school years, he spent his senior year at Decatur High School. Corbin recalls his senior year as a “wonderful experience” and has fond memories of playing in the symphonic band.
In the summer of 2016, Corbin moved out of his parent’s house and into L’Arche Atlanta. L’Arche is a community model where people with and without disabilities live and work together as peers. He shares a home in Oakhurst with three other adults with intellectual disabilities and three assistants. “Moving out of my parent’s house was a better fit for me. I like it and everyone is nice. My favorite part about living here is having jam sessions with the assistants. They play guitar and ukulele, and I sing harmony. Music makes me feel good.”