11 Nov 2014

A Delegate’s View - SEND Gathering

SEND Music Network Gathering, 7 October 2014, Northallerton.
By Sarah Mawby, University of Leeds

When asked by NYMAZ to provide a review of their most recent SEND Gathering, I jumped at the chance. The whole afternoon was spectacularly well organised, with interesting and varied talks and workshops from a variety of leading figures in the SEND field.

Firstly, the keynote presentation by Professor Adam Ockelford on the subject of ‘Music and Autism’ was everything a good keynote should be: engaging, inspirational, informative…the list goes on. As a music education researcher myself, I am very familiar with Professor Ockelford’s work and hearing him speak is always a pleasure. It was also lovely to hear so many of the delegates discussing the enlightening and entertaining content of the talk throughout the afternoon.

Following the keynote speech, delegates were treated to two fantastic interactive workshops. The first was led by Diane Paterson and Victoria Jaquiss who gave some ‘top-tips’ for including everyone in music making activities. The second was led by Andrew Cleaton who gave a truly accessible overview of some of the incredible music apps for iPad (or similar tablet technology) that we can all use in our SEND settings.

Delegates were also treated to an informative introduction to the Arts Award qualification. This was led by Ginny Scholey and provided an overview of the qualification and how it can benefit young people with special educational needs.

My personal highlight of the afternoon, however, was the inclusive singing and signing session led by apprentices Martin Hodgson and Hayley Webb, from Accessible Arts & Media’s ‘Hands & Voices’ Choir. Following an active warm-up where we explored a jungle (yes, a jungle!) we all got to sing and sign a fantastic calypso song. I could not stop smiling after this session and the song itself was a pleasant earworm for the remainder of the evening.

All in all, the SEND Gathering was a brilliant afternoon. It provided delegates with training in a wide variety of areas. It also provided attendees with access to important and relevant information about local & national music-making opportunities for individuals with special educational needs and the practitioners that support them. What’s more, attending the event was a fantastic way to meet likeminded people who are all committed to providing high-quality music activities in the settings in which they work. The ‘offered’ and ‘wanted’ boards were a fantastic way of sharing services and expressing additional training needs, and there was ample opportunity to chat over coffee and cake.

I couldn’t recommend the event enough and I’m very much looking forward to seeing everyone at the next one; I wouldn’t miss it for the world. 

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