• 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

  • Accessible Instruments Challenge Showcase

    Accessible Instruments Challenge Showcase

    Over the past few months, our eight challenge teams have been working hard to address the accessibility challenges of people who want to play or produce music, but find it physically challenging to do so. Their aim was to build on existing work and take further steps forward in making adaptive musical instruments more affordable, making music education in schools more inclusive and uncovering new solutions that haven’t been tried before.

    The Accessible Instruments Challenge has been an exciting collaborative virtual project which brought together expertise in digital innovation and design technology, musical instrument making and lived experience of disability. The culmination of the project saw Creative United and Plexal host an online showcase event where the challenge teams and other contributors came together to share their ideas, solutions and responses to our challenges.

    It was a wonderful couple of hours, with a fantastic exchange of ideas, solutions and conversation. You can watch the full event here and hear more from each team as well as some super interesting Q & As!

    Below you’ll see the 3-minute video presentations from each team where they explain their challenge and what how they’ve worked to produce solutions. Enjoy!

    Trombone Stand Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript

    trombone stand

    Digital Bagpipe Chanter Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript


    Multisensory Production Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript

    Sound desk

    One-Handed Clarinet Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript


    Supply Chain for Schools Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript

    Supply chain - music

    Virtual Band Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript

    Virtual band

    Violin Bow Holder Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript

    Violin + bow

    One-Handed Recorder Team Challenge

    Head to accessibleinstruments.com to see the full challenge profile of this team.

    Download Video Transcript


    Tell us what you think and join the conversation: @Takeitawaymusic

  • Reshape Music – Take it away Consortium

    Reshaping Music - Beyond the Baseline | IAMM

    Reshape Music: A report exploring the lived experience of Disabled musicians in education and beyond sets out the significant barriers faced by Disabled musicians to access music education and music-making in the UK.

    We are really excited to share the news of this new publication by our partners at Youth Music. Mary-Alice Stack, our Chief Executive at Creative United writes:

    “The publication today of Youth Music’s Reshape Music report marks a significant milestone for Creative United and our Take it away Consortium partners. Written by Sarah Mawby and a group of Co-Researchers, the report takes as its starting point the ‘Make Some Noise’ survey data collected by the Take it away Consortium in 2018/19, which sought to build a picture of the barriers to participation and learning in music experienced by disabled people.
    Over a period of 5 months from September 2018 to January 2019 we worked hard to gather the perspectives of disabled musicians, the parents of disabled children, music teachers and other professionals working in the music education sector as well as staff employed by retailers of musical instruments. This was the first national survey of its kind, and an important first step for the Consortium.
    The survey findings, originally released in May 2019 as a statistical analysis only, were effective in establishing a baseline against which we could measure the impact of our work going forwards, as well as evidencing the gaps and shortcomings of existing provision.
    18 months on, what the Reshape Music report has done so brilliantly is to bring that data alive through the involvement of a research team with lived experience of disability who have interrogated, questioned, reflected and responded to the findings, allowing us to take our understanding of the issues well beyond the baseline.
    It’s rare to find a research report infused with the individual perspectives and personal experiences of the research team. And that’s what makes this report so powerful, and so valuable as a piece of essential reading for anyone involved in the music industry, whether that’s in learning and participation, retail, music production or performance.
    And that goes for me too. I’m incredibly proud of the work that has been initiated by Creative United through the Take it away Consortium but, as the report shows, we still have a lot to learn – and a lot to gain – through the direct involvement of disabled people in understanding and responding to the issues around access and inclusion that we are trying to address.
    Clearly, there is still a long way to go in reshaping the music sector to be fully inclusive and accessible for disabled people – but thanks to this report the pathways to making that vision a reality are clearer than ever.”

    – Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Executive

    Find out more about the IAMM initiative (inclusive and accessible music making) by heading to our news page here.

    Download Reshape Music Report

    Tell us what you think and join the conversation: @Takeitawaymusic

  • IAMM Webinars

    Webinars | IAMM

    Last month we were thrilled to have been invited to speak about our work around inclusive and accessible music making (IAMM) with two great organisations: the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and Latimer Group.

    The ISM panel discussion featured our Take it away manager, Sophie Ogunyemi, who spoke alongside Rachel Wolfsohnn from The OHMI Trust, teacher and musician Ruth Montgomery, and Sarah Mawby, independent researcher. Watch their discussion on adaptive musical instruments, inclusive practise and more below! 📺

    ISM Webinar panel: Inclusive and accessible music-making with adaptive music instruments

    Our CEO, Mary-Alice Stack, gave a 20 minute talk and overview about our Inclusive and Accessible Music Making Initiative, from how it all started to our current projects. Watch the Latimer Talks session followed by a very interesting Q&A below. 📺

    Latimer Talks with Mary-Alice Stack on Inclusivity in Music

    Tell us what you think and join the conversation: @Takeitawaymusic

  • Introducing the teams working on the Accessible Instruments Challenge

    Introducing the teams working on the Accessible Instruments Challenge

    Let’s get up to speed 

    Launched in June, the exciting Accessible Instruments Challenge has brought together a wide range of people with expertise in digital innovation and design technology, musical instrument making and lived experience of disability to focus on a series of practical and conceptual challenges that have the potential to materially improve access and inclusion in music making for disabled people. 

    These people have been split into 8 teams who are currently working together virtually to address 8 specific challenges. The aim is to make adaptive musical instruments more affordable, make music education in schools more inclusive and uncover new solutions that haven’t been tried before! 

    From Challenge Leaders and Collaborators to Advisers and Partners, there are now 49 incredible individuals taking part in this part of the IAMM initiative.

    Without further ado, meet the teams and find out more about the challenges: 

    Supply Chain for Schools

    Supply chain - music

    Challenge: How can we build an effective supply chain of adaptive instruments into schools, ensuring that disabled children are able to fully participate in music education?

    Following the success of our Nottingham Pilot Programme with The OHMI Trust and Nottingham Music Hub, this project will focus on the challenge of building an effective national supply chain of adaptive musical instruments and assistive equipment to meet the needs of disabled children attending mainstream schools across the country. 

    The Team 
    • Mary-Alice Stack – Chief Executive, Creative United
    • Angela Suh – Strategic Relationship Manager, Creative United
    • Paul McManus – CEO, MIA 
    • John Sandford – Retired Head of Music 
    • Adam Whittaker – Head of Pedagogy & Lecturer in Music, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
    • Rachel Griffiths – MA Music Education, Instrumental Teaching

    “I am delighted to be a part of this team to explore ways we can get accessible instruments to the places where they are needed. There is already some great work in this field and I’m keen to help us take the next steps in reaching those who will benefit from it to realise their musical ambitions.” – Adam Whittaker

    Virtual bandVirtual Band

    Challenge: How can immersive technology remove the limitations that people with disabilities face with traditional instruments?

    This challenge is about exploring and questioning the use of immersive technology to remove the limitations that people with disabilities face with traditional instruments, and aim to make playing and learning music more accessible and inclusive.

    The Team: 
    • Ewan Morrison – Head of Visualisation, Hobs 3D
    • Kadine James – Creative Tech Lead, Hobs 3D
    • Billy Payne – Music Educator
    • Martina Fatato – Designer
    • Kat Kuczynski – Deputy Head, Glamorgan Music School
    • Sarah Dunn – Music Teacher, Saltaire Music Tuition
    • Junkerry – Composer, producer and musician
    • Allen Namiq – Real Time Artist, Hobs 3D

    “I am passionate about bringing music into people’s lives by helping remove the barriers that stop opportunities.” – Kat Kuczynski

    ClarinetOne-Handed Clarinet

    Challenge: How can we improve the fabrication process and solve supply chain issues to make a one handed clarinet more accessible?

    This team is focusing on a fabrication/supply chain challenge. Their aim is to improve production times and move away from the handcrafted, made to order model that currently exists. Could the production principles be applied to other instruments e.g. saxophone, can it be adapted to both Left hand alone; Right hand alone, and how can we meet unmet demand?

    The Team
    • Sharon Jones – Eagle Lab Engineer, Barclays Eagle Lab
    • Peter Worrell – Woodwind Instrument Maker
    • Clare Salters – Woodwind Tutor
    • Hannah Williams – Export Sales & Operations Coordinator, The British Band Instrument Company
    • Sophie Hyman – Prop/Model Maker

     “I am passionate about inclusion and accessibility and delighted to find a project that combines music, accessibility and engineering.” – Sharon Jones

    trombone standTrombone Stand

    Challenge: How can we standardise the production of a bespoke moulded Trombone stand to enable mass production?

    The OHMI Trust had a winning trombone stand in their competition last year made by Swiss maker, Thomas Tschirren. The issue is that the shell is moulded around the player and this is currently only possible via multiple trips to Switzerland.  This team is attempting to develop solutions to enable production to be standardised and reduce the need for bespoke creation of the shell.

    The Team
    • Thomas Tschirren – Hospital of Solothurn, Switzerland
    • Tim Low – Assistant Manager, The OHMI Trust
    • Chris Fower – Director of Creativity and Innovation, Warwick Music Group

    “My ambition is that the team will learn from potential users and existing best practice to develop and innovate a trombone stand that can be economically and sustainably produced allowing a new cohort of children and adults to experience the fun of playing the trombone and the joy of making music!” – Chris Fower

    Sound deskMultisensory Production

    Challenge: How can we redesign music production for a visually impaired person?

    This challenge is all about adapting mainstream music production software for use by visually impaired music producers and engineers, enabling them to practice their craft with maximum efficiency thereby allowing them to compete on an equal footing with their non-disabled counterparts.  

    The Team
    • Richard Llewellyn – UK Education Manager, Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH
    • Owain Wilson – Co-Founder, Digit Music
    • Jason Dasent – Music Producer 
    • David Ward – Managing Director,  TiME UK: Technology in Music Education

    “Not enough people are aware of all the fantastic solutions that are being found and made available. With over 15% of the global population being classified as disabled, things need to change!” – Richard Llewellyn

    RecorderOne-Handed Recorder

    Challenge: How can we improve upon the design and production processes of the existing 3D printed one handed recorder?

    A 3D printed version of the one-handed recorder has already been produced and successfully trialled in the Nottingham Pilot by The OHMI Trust. This challenge is working on the production/design and looking at how best to improve the small scale production of the existing recorder.

    The Team
    • Paul Yeomans – Senior CAD/CAM Trainer, Birmingham City University – Technology Hub
    • Liz Wrighton – Freelance Musician
    • Rachel Wolffsohn – General Manager, The OHMI Trust
    • Simone Reid – Recorder Performer and Teacher, Polyphonica Recorder Trio
    • Grace Barton – Musician, Polyphonica Recorder Trio
    • Michael Piraner – Musician, Polyphonica Recorder Trio
    • Luis Zayas – PhD, Queen Mary, University of London

    “Knowing the positive impact access to one of these instruments can have, and having seen the design of the recorder develop over the past few years, I’m really excited to see where the Challenge could take us next and the opportunities it could provide for more young musicians!” – Liz Wrighton

    BagpipeBagpipe Chanter (Digital)

    Challenge: How can we refine the prototype electronic interface that significantly improves the accessibility of the bagpipe?

    During this electronics/engineering challenge, the team will build on the work of a young student who is playing a prototype bagpipe chanter. They will aim to complete the product design and further refine the electronics. Depending on progress over the next month, this could evolve into a coding challenge for the app.

    The Team
    • Sean M. Tracey – Developer Advocate; Tech Focal for Innovation, International Business Machines
    • Duncan Menzies – P-bROCK Developer
    • Courtney Reed – Research Student (PhD), Queen Mary University of London 

     “So far, two young people in the UK have started learning with a prototype of the one-handed chanter, and I’m very keen to refine the interface and have it ready for production/delivery as soon as possible!” – Duncan Menzies

    Violin + bowViolin Bow Holder

    Challenge: How can a prosthesis that enables bow control be redeveloped into a modular device (hand/wrist/forearm) to reduce the bespoke part to the attachment to the body?

    Lots of people with limb differences have limbs that stop at different points but need a device that attaches to a bow at one end and their arm at another end. This team is looking to discover solutions that can allow production of a modular device with the minimum amount of bespoke attachments as possible, in order to allow for fast production and greater reach.

    The Team
    • Nate Macabuag – Lead Designer, Mitt Wearables Ltd
    • Ruth Lester – Honorary Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital NHS FT
    • Rachel Wolffsohn – General Manager, The OHMI Trust
    • Yaning Wu – Student, University College London
    • Lindsay Higgs – Guitar Teacher
    • Linda Crisp – Teacher

     “This project is a great way of taking an existing piece of equipment and moving it on to the next stage thus making it possible for far more people to participate in music-making alongside their peers.” – Rachel Wolffsohn

    For more information on the challenges, in-depth biographies of the people involved, details of the organisations taking part and further updates, please click the button below:
    An image of the team working on the "Accessible Instruments Challenge" with a continuous line drawing in the background

    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.

    Our team is also bringing about a mobility future that’s sustainable, personalised, accessible, smart and secure. We’re working directly with government and industry to test, scale and deploy solutions that will radically transform the way we move.

    And as well as hosting events – anything from meetups to large conferences – we’re home to over 900 innovators who are working in areas like mobility, AI, healthtech, cybersecurity, fintech, the Internet of Things, VR and more.

    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.

    We employ our creativity and technical expertise across multiple industries, working with the world’s leading companies from art & fashion to architecture, from computer gaming to construction, and from marketing to healthcare. We work closely alongside our clients as their creative department to envision, enhance and actualise their projects to the highest standards. 



    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

  • 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.