09 Jan 2017


NYMAZ SEND Music Network Gathering

The NYMAZ SEND Music Network Gathering took place on Wednesday 16 November 2016 at The Spa, Scarborough. The day consisted of case study presentations, a practical workshop and a panel discussion.
It was well received by the 37 music professionals in attendance, including a mix of staff from special schools, mainstream schools, students and freelance music leaders. Feedback showed that the event helped to improve people’s confidence, knowledge and skill in delivering music activities with children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities. Participants said that some of the most valuable things they had taken from the event had been:


“Networking with organisations and schools; really useful to build links between research and practice, and make research more practice-based”

“(Given me) new ideas of how to structure sessions”

“Great practical approaches”

“Introduced a wider range of activities/experience available”

Case studies were said to be of high quality, presented well, interesting, informative and containing a good balance between information and practical demonstrations.



A snapshot of the day….

Professional musicians on the Live Music Now scheme Chloe Saywell and Stephenie Leung reflected on a programme of workshops and interactive performances in North Yorkshire Special Schools as part of the NYMAZ Youth Music Programme.

Working with Ash Trees Academy, a primary special school in Teesside, and Andrew Cleaton of Epiphany Music, Tees Valley Music Service introduced a successful project using ‘Soundbeam’ assistive music technology.

Hosted by Graham Dowdall, one of the country’s leading Community Music trainers, the Working Across Difference With Music and SEND workshop presented Practical ideas for creativity and inclusive music making in SEND settings. Delegates joined in with a variety of simple but effective workshop techniques introduced by Graham including using vocalisation looping software to create a soundscape, with Graham noting how empowering it could be for children to be given a microphone.

Nikki-Kate Heyes MBE and CEO at soundLINCS, presented a new toolkit: Valuing Music in Special Needs Settings. A resource based on practitioner led research, to explore a range of music making and singing approaches for whole class teaching and group work in SEND schools. The toolkit is available to download www.soundlincs.org/sendtoolkit/

The gathering closed with a panel discussion chaired by Graham Dowdell: Music Therapy or therapeutic music-making? Differences, similarities and shared learning, and opportunity for questions, with:
• Karen Irwin, Strategic Director SEN, Live Music Now
• Angela Harrison, Lead Music Therapist, North Yorkshire Music Therapy Centre
• Ros Hawley, Specialist musician, SEND and complex healthcare needs

The Panel discussed the key characteristics of Music Therapy as a practice/profession, and how this differed from community music activity or other musical interventions which may have intended or unintended therapeutic benefits, as well as talking about similarities / cross-overs in terms of intention, approaches, and techniques. All panelists spoke passionately about the work of their organisations and shared some very moving video examples.

Positive feedback was received widely and Graham Dowdall’s workshop appeared to be one of the highlights of the day, with many saying they found it extremely useful, very interesting and engaging:

“Excellent. Easy to grasp and therefore use in my sessions”


“Lots of good ideas I could use either with children or staff at my current setting”

“Excellent with plenty of tangible / practical detail”.




Overall comments about the event included:

“Great workshops, talks and discussions. I feel it has increased my confidence to work with my students in my classroom. I would like more training to facilitate music throughout the school”.

“Given me new ideas of how to structure sessions. Given me a new understanding for how technology can be used alongside conventional acoustic, instrumental and vocal musical activities”.

“Introduced a wider range of activities/experience available. Started an interesting question of music making in education + health”.

There were also comments about how the ideas could easily be used in group settings where little musical knowledge existed. All agreed that they would have enjoyed more time hearing from the discussion panel speakers about their fascinating perspectives on therapeutic music, and NYMAZ will hope to include this in a future event. Thanks again for to all delegates and speakers for their involvement!

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Tags | Digital | Music projects | Practice-sharing | Special Educational Needs/Disabilities

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