• Breaking down barriers to music-making for disabled pupils | The OHMI Trust

    Breaking down barriers to music-making for disabled pupils | The OHMI Trust

    The Take it away Consortium conducted research in 2019 which found that a lack of knowledge about the existence of adapted instruments is a major barrier to ensuring parity of opportunity in music-making for disabled children. Following this, we launched the Nottingham Pilot Programme with The OHMI Trust and Nottingham Music Hub to enable disabled children to participate fully in Whole Class Ensemble Tuition at primary school.
    Two years later, the successful pilot has been extended!
    Our partners at OHMI have written and shared the following article about the programme.

    One of the greatest gifts a teacher can give is the opportunity to learn. Yet this often presents a challenge when catering for pupils with additional needs.

    It’s certainly the case when ensuring Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) is truly inclusive. If a child is living with an upper arm impairment, how can she or he play a brass or stringed instrument which requires the use of both hands? An assumption often made is that it is impossible. It seems fairer for the child in question not to attend the music lesson lest they feel excluded.

    As the UK’s leading authority on adaptation of traditional instruments, the musical instrument charity, OHMI, is uniquely positioned to provide solutions that give pupils parity of experience with their peers, and enable teachers to use uniform pedagogical approaches across a whole class.

    However, before it could provide the appropriate instruments, OHMI needed to assess where pupil needs lie. In 2019, the charity launched its pioneering Inclusive Access to Music-Making (IAMM) programme with Nottingham Music Service (NMS) and Creative United. The objectives of the project are three-fold: to identify the needs of physically disabled pupils; to produce a plan for WCET; and to provide accessible instruments, enabling equipment, staff training and other interventions.

    The results of the pilot were particularly compelling.

    It identified the needs of 78 children who faced a barrier to instrumental music-making, 37 of whom had a requirement for adapted instruments and/or enabling equipment.

    The success of the pilot led to the project’s extension in 2020. With the support of an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant, the project enabled the inclusion of a second year group of pupils in Nottingham, and to a second project with Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT).

    In the latest survey assessing needs for the 2020-2021 academic year, 37 schools in Nottingham and 42 schools in Northamptonshire have identified pupils who would benefit from additional support on WCET.

    Once needs have been pinpointed, the IAMM project serves to provide the most appropriate instrument or apparatus to allow each child to participate fully in the WCET sessions.

    As Ian Burton, Head of Nottingham Music Service, comments,

    “If there’s one thing I would urge schools to do, it’s this. However well intended, don’t make the assumption that an upper arm impairment precludes a child from making music to a high standard. OHMI has dedicated the last ten years to challenging assumptions on what’s possible but they can only offer help to the children that need it if advance notice is given to instrumental teachers of particular pupil needs.”

    Peter Smalley, Head of NMPAT, is in full agreement,

    “OHMI has come up with the most wonderfully innovative solutions for pupils in Northamptonshire. A trumpet stand which allows a pupil in Northampton to play his instrument one handed. An Artiphon which means two girls at a school in Daventry can switch to that instrument when bowing on their lap-held violin becomes too tiring. Where there’s a will – from the school, the pupil and from a Music Hub’s partnership with OHMI and Creative United – there’s almost always certainly a way.”

    We highly recommend reading this case study for more information on the impact of the IAMM project in Northamptonshire, from the perspective of instrumental teachers Kate and John Bickerdike:

    Read Case Study

    Are you a Music Hub, teacher or parent wishing to find out more about the data identified and experiences and techniques delivered by this programme?

    Please get in contact with OHMI via the button below.

    Contact OHMI

    The OHMI Trust logo

    The OHMI Trust’s objective is a simple one: we enable children and adults with physical impairments to play the instruments they want to play, when they want to play them and where they want to play them (whether at school, in the home or in a professional ensemble).

    Find out more and get in touch by visiting their website: ohmi.org.uk

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • The Accessible Instruments Challenge | IAMM Hackathon

    The Accessible Instrument Challenge | IAMM Hackathon Project

    Music is a universal language – or at least it should be. But what if having a physical disability makes it difficult – or impossible – for someone to learn and play a musical instrument?

    In 2018 we launched the beginnings of what has become known as the IAMM (Inclusive Access to Music Making) initiative, which sees Creative United and Take it away work closely with partners from across the music, tech and music education sector to raise the profile of music making by disabled children and adults, increasing awareness of the opportunities and sources of support available to enable more people to access music.

    This has resulted in the formation and work of the Take it away Consortium, the Nottingham Music Hub Pilot Programme, and most recently the brand new Guide to Buying Adaptive Musical Instruments.

    The research and projects undertaken have clearly shown us that, although there are lots of adapted instruments out there, many are prototypes or bespoke. For example, the one-handed clarinet provided to Nottingham pupil Redeem is one of only two in the world and takes many months to create. What happens when five one-handed clarinets are needed for other children to start learning with their peers at the same time?

    With examples like this in mind, Creative United and partners have created The Accessible Instrument Challenge – an online collaborative project that aims to address the accessibility challenges of people who want to play or produce music but find it physically challenging to do so.

    The Accessible Instrument Challenge aims:

    Aims of project

    Bringing together expertise in digital innovation and design technology, musical instrument making and lived experience of disability, multiple teams will build on existing work and aim to take further steps forward in making adaptive musical instruments more affordable, music education in schools more inclusive, and uncovering new solutions that haven’t been tried before.  

    From supply chain issues to making production software accessible for visually impaired musicians, find out more about the challenges each team will be undertaking.

    Find out more

    I’m up for a challenge! Can I join a team?

    Absolutely! We’d love for you to get involved and join us. Here’s an overview of who we’re looking for to make up each team:

    Disabled and non-disabled musicians — Instrument makers — Designers — Manufacturers — Technologists — Inventors — Innovators — Music teachers — Academics — Students 

    Are you one of the above?

    Join a Team

    Applications close on 17th July – please get in touch if you’ve got any questions.

    Get in touch

    Our Partners 


    Funded by Arts Council England, the project is designed to raise awareness of the challenges facing people with disabilities playing traditional musical instruments and find practical solutions that will enable them to participate fully in music making.


    Plexal is the innovation centre and coworking space that believes in the power of collaboration. We’re building a diverse innovation ecosystem to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing society –starting with cybersecurity, mobility and inclusion.

    Our innovation team delivers programmes for clients like Innovate UK and Transport for London, and specialises in forging connections between industry, academia, investors, startups and scaleups.

    Our workspace is home to LORCA: an innovation programme that scales the cybersecurity solutions needed most by industry to make the internet safer for everyone.

    In the inclusion space, we run the OpenDoor accelerator and are working with partners like UCL and Disability Rights UK to optimise our workspace for accessibility and champion disability-led innovation.

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    They enjoy community events, access to the EagleLab at Plexal makers’ space and services designed to help them scale.


    The OHMI Trust

    The OHMI Trust works to remove the barriers to music-making faced by people with physical disabilities. Any deficiency in an upper limb makes nearly all musical instruments unplayable to any reasonable standard. As a result, thousands are excluded from music-making, including most disabled children.

    The OHMI Trust strives for full, undifferentiated, participation in musical life for disabled people through the creation and provision of adapted musical instruments and enabling apparatus. It also undertakes and commissions research into pedagogic practises, instrument design, and manufacturing methods.


    Hobs 3D

    Creative. Collaborative. Comprehensive. Hobs 3D offers one of the most complete ranges of 3D services in the world. We bridge the gap between digital and physical 3D creation, employing a select and diverse team of 3D printing specialists, model makers, product designers, 3D digital artists and MIxed Reality XR/VR/AR immersive storytellers.

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    UCL is a diverse global community of world-class academics, students, industry links, external partners, and alumni. Our powerful collective of individuals and institutions work together to explore new possibilities.

    Our distinctive approach to research, education and innovation seeks to further inspire our community of staff, students and partners to transform how the world is understood, how knowledge is created and shared, and the way that global problems are solved.

    Creative United

    Creative United is an independent Community Interest Company that provides finance-based products and services designed to deliver economic growth and social impact to the arts, creative and cultural sectors.

    The Take it away scheme is one of its flagship programmes, which supports participation in music by providing interest free loans for the purchase of musical instruments, equipment and software to enable music making at every level.


    Press enquiries

    Please contact us at: info@creativeunited.org.uk

    Download Press Release

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitawaymusic