Inclusive access to music making initiative by Creative United in partnership with The OHMI Trust and the Nottingham Music Hub enables disabled children to participate fully in Whole Class Ensemble Tuition at primary school

Photo courtesy of Nottingham Music Hub 

Since publishing our findings of the Make Some Noise Research undertaken by the Take it away Consortium, we’ve launched a pilot initiative with the Nottingham Music Hub (NMH) and The OHMI Trust enabling disabled children to participate fully in Whole Class Ensemble Tuition (WCET). 

The research identified Whole Class Ensemble Teaching as a frequently cited barrier to music making for disabled children who are educated in mainstream schools. Both parents and music educators reported that that WCET was often not accessible, and not meeting the needs of many disabled pupils. Before engaging in this pilot programme, NMH received little to no information about pupils ahead of classes starting and therefore couldn’t prepare in advance to address the needs of individual pupils before going into schools.

Although the Department for Education figures show that 121 children currently in mainstream primary schools in Nottingham have a physical disability as their primary type of need, NMH were only made aware of a tiny number of students with these needs in the history of their delivery of WCET. As part of the pilot initiative, a questionnaire sent to all Nottingham City Primary Schools helped identify 78 pupils across 25 schools who would benefit from additional support with WCET.

Thanks to all partners involved, individual plans to enable each child to participate in WCET with parity of access and experience with their peers could be realised! The interventions range from producing large print resources and adapting teaching techniques to provision of specialist adapted instruments (including a one-handed clarinet) and carefully selected music technology solutions. These interventions were all made possible thanks to generous donations from Music for All, The OHMI Trust and Clement Pianos, a Nottingham-based retailer that is also a member of the Take it away scheme.

“The OHMI Trust is delighted to be working with NMH and Creative United to provide equipment and support that allows students to participate fully in the WCET programme and beyond if they wish. We hope that this groundbreaking project will lead to similar support for children with additional needs across the country, in line with current government policy”.

Rachel Wolffsohn, General Manager of The OHMI Trust 

Redeem, a Year 6 pupil at Westglade Primary School, has started playing on one of only two one-handed clarinets in the world thanks to the pilot!

“I want to continue playing my clarinet,” Redeem said when asked if he could play any instrument which one he would choose.  He wants to be a police officer when he grows up, possibly playing in a police band so that he can continue with his music too.

Crucially, all these interventions and resources were put into place ahead of the start of the academic year in September, meaning children could start term on a level playing field. None of the 78 identified children would have been brought to the attention of the hub prior to the start of term had the pilot not been instigated, and so none of these resources would have been able to be identified or supplied.

The progress of the cohort across the academic year and beyond will now be monitored as part of the initiative and all partners hope to see a proportionate number of the identified children continue with music making beyond first access in comparison with their peers.

“At the Arts Council we believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to take part and experience great art and culture. We’re delighted that Creative United and Nottingham Music Education Hub has joined forces to offer disabled/less able-bodied children the chance to learn to play a musical instrument, alongside their school mates. Opportunities like this may not have been available in the past and I, for one, look forward to seeing and hearing the results.”

Peter Knott, Area Director at Arts Council England

For more information about the Consortium research findings and/or the Nottingham Pilot Programme please get in touch with us here.

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