PRAGUE -- It's an unusual orchestra, one that has played in London, Madrid, Moscow and Jerusalem. Its next stops are New York, Washington and Chicago.

The Tap Tap, created 18 years ago to give students at a renowned school for the disabled in Prague an extracurricular activity, has become a major musical operation that has drawn millions of fans, first at home and gradually abroad.

You can't tell from its professional, typically rhythmic sound that many of the musicians are in wheelchairs with serious disabilities. And that's just what its director wants.

Band leader Simon Ornest believes that often the disabled aren't challenged enough and people tend to be too solicitous of them.

"My goal from the very start was not to do it as a therapy but as a band with everything that it could involve," Ornest said.

"(Those) around 18 to 20 years old are confronted in our band for the first time with a situation where we really want something from them. We insist on it."

Ornest said he had a feeling the concept was viable but has been astounded at its success.

"I wouldn't believe it would be possible to develop it as we have done. It's an elaborate system with hard work behind it, unexpectedly hard work," he said.

He said the band's strength is based on its two essential rules.

"We come on time and we do what we promised among ourselves to do. It's a pretty good basis for any teamwork," he said.

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