On Wednesday 15 October, NYMAZ held its annual SEND Music Network Gathering, an event for professionals working at the intersection between music-making, young people, disability and special educational needs. Delegates were treated to contributions from Barry Farrimond, OpenUp Music; Rachel Wolffsohn, The OHMI Trust; Ben Sellers, Transformance Music; Sarah Mawby, University of Leeds: and Parissa Zarifi, musinc.
What did delegates think of the day?
“Fantastic and great space to discuss and share practice”
“Passionate and knowledgeable speakers”
“Highly valuable as a postgrad student”
“The quality was very high, wonderfully presented and very interesting”
After a musical warm-up from Parissa Zarifi, who got delegates moving with some classic stomping and clapping body percussion, Barry Farrimond opened the programme with a presentation and workshop about his organisation, OpenUp Music, and its progress in promoting accessible ‘Open Orchestras’ for children and young people with disabilities. He introduced OpenUp’s very own musical instrument, the Clarion, which can be played with any moving part of the body, and proved very popular among delegates.
Barry Farrimond demonstrates the Clarion to a delegate
Splitting into two groups, delegates then heard from Sarah Mawby, postgraduate researcher at University of Leeds, and Ben Sellers of Transformance Music.
Sarah’s presentation explored what ‘best practice’ means in the world of music and special educational needs/disabilities. Drawing on her research, which collected views from a range of stakeholders including special school teachers, music therapists, musicians and others, she reflected on differing priorities when it came to music’s role in a special school. And, touching on the ‘social model of disability’, she acknowledged that improvements are needed to allow learning disabled participants’ views to be meaningfully included within academic research.
Ben Sellers’ workshop introduced delegates to some of the ways they can engage young people with music using the iPad, a resource which most schools now have access to, but which many teachers and practitioners have little experience of using in the context of music-making. A popular workshop, many delegates left wanting more, and a resource explaining some of Ben’s recommended music apps for iPad meant they could start trying out new skills straightaway in their settings.
Delegates joined discussion tables over coffee and cakes, and had the opportunity to network with colleagues old and new, adding contributions to the ‘Offered’ and ‘Wanted’ boards which sparked conversations there and then, with delegates offering advice, contacts and support for others seeking particular expertise.
A video clip shows a child playing a one-handed recorder
In further parallel sessions, delegates heard from Rachel Wolffsohn of OHMI Trust, and Parissa Zarifi, freelance Community Musician working with NYMAZ partner musinc in Teesside.
Rachel demonstrated some of the pioneering work of the OHMI Trust in encouraging the design and creation of instruments for physically disabled musicians. Running a competition for new instruments, both in the design stage and ready for use, the OHMI Trust specializes in instruments for people with limited or no use of their hands, which causes significant barriers to playing the majority of traditional instruments. With some of the instruments in the room for delegates to see and try, Rachel also used video clips and images to demonstrate the instruments in use by young musicians with upper limb disabilities.
Delegates try out the one-handed instruments brought by Rachel Wolffsohn, The OHMI Trust.
Parissa Zarifi’s presentation framed her take on a youth work-focussed approach to music-making within the context of a project she works on in Teesside: The Big Music Project. Sharing key aspects of her work with young people with mixed abilities, including those with learning disabilities, Parissa had delegates considering to what extent young people participate in the design and delivery of projects, using the ‘ladder of participation’ as an example. She also shared ideas and advice for delivering arts award with participants with special educational needs.
Thanks go to all the speakers who contributed, and to all the delegates who attended what was an informative and inspiring event. We had a fantastic afternoon, and are looking forward to next year already!