• 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

  • Take it away launches the first Guide to Buying Adaptive Musical Instruments

    We’re thrilled to be able to share the first edition of our Guide to Buying Adaptive Musical Instruments!

    This resource is the first of it’s kind and aims to raise awareness of the extraordinary range of adaptive instruments that are currently available. We hope that this will inspire and encourage many more disabled people to be confident of their ability to learn and play music.