On Wednesday 14 November, NYMAZ held its annual SEND (special educational needs and/or disabilities) Music Network Gathering, an event for anyone with an interest in developing their skills and knowledge of using music in SEND settings.
Delegates were treated to contributions from Rosie Rushton and Dom Macmillan-Scott (Big Top Musical Adventures CIC), Kris Halpin and Michael Dollan (Drake Music), Sarah Fisher, Dr Marina Gall (University of Bristol), Julie Green and Hannah Thompson (Accessible Arts and Media), Britta Koerber (Jessie’s Fund) and Deborah Welch (Live Music Now).
What did delegates think of the day?
‘They were all great, a really diverse group of speakers with lots of valuable information to share.’
‘Great variety and good practice which I can develop into my own’
‘Excellent and inspirational, it was all excellent quality’
The afternoon was opened with an inspiring multi-sensory music-making adventure from Rosie and Dom of Big Top Musical Adventures CIC, sharing the structure and pedagogy behind their sessions designed to engage and be accessible for all, in particular those with learning disabilities. A truly engaging and energetic start.
This was followed by a presentation from Kris Halpin and Michael Dollan, both Associate Artists of Drake Music, providing an overview of the important work of Drake Music to remove disabling barriers to music-making, and leaving delegates brimming with new ideas of how to adapt their own work. They also looked at their own legacy project around inclusion and song, in partnership with Coventry Music Hub and Baginton Fields Schoolsharing the techniques, technology and pedagogy behind this successful project which has sustained beyond their involvement.
Dr Marina Gall gave a thought-provoking presentation about her research into Open Orchestras projects in two PMLD settings. Open Orchestras is a programme to support students with special educational needs/disabilities in practical music making. At the centre of this is a new technological musical instrument - The Clarion - which can be played with any part of the body, including just the eyes. Marina shared her findings on using this new technology in the Open Orchestra context.
Delegates enjoyed the opportunity to network with colleagues old and new, discussing the presentations over coffee and cake before hearing about current projects taking place across North Yorkshire.
Deborah Welch (Live Music Now) shared the All Together Now project, which provides opportunity for disabled young people and their families to enjoy an interactive music session, led by professional musicians from Live Music Now.
Following this, Julie Green and Hannah Thompson (Accessible Arts and Media) gave an insight into the interactive, multi-sensory music system, iMUSE, a platform which allows the participant to create music, images and vibrations based on their choices, likes, and needs through movement and vocalisations.
The final local case study came from Britta Koerber (Jessie’s Fund) who discussed the organisation’s family learning programme, which focussed on developing projects where families learn music activities to use in the home, and are given the opportunity to socialise and build support networks through shared musical activity.
Thanks to this programme of local case studies we were pleased to learn that delegates felt they had an ‘improved knowledge of projects taking place in the area and greater awareness of NYMAZ’s work’.
The day closed with parallel workshops led by Michael and Kris from Drake Music, and Sarah Fisher, each exploring different approaches to inclusive music-making. Sarah Fisher’s workshop introduced delegates to her own experiences of disability, and the way it has impacted on her personal music-making journey, as well as sharing some inclusive musical exercises for engaging, motivating and instilling a love of music in young people of all abilities. Referencing her own research, ‘A Way not The Way’, she emphasised how adapting your practice for individuals could open-up musical opportunities. Sarah’s was a popular workshop, which left delegates feeling inspired and enthused to try out new ideas in their own settings.
Drake Music’s Kris Halpin and Michael Dollan led a workshop which focused on incorporating simple technologies into inclusive song-based workshops, taking inspiration from the project they presented earlier in the day. The session took a look at using these practical resources for inclusive music delivery, particularly iPads, which are readily available in many education contexts.
Huge thanks go to all the speakers for their inspiring contributions, and also to all the delegates who helped to make it such an uplifting and inspiring event. We had a fantastic afternoon and are looking forward to the next gathering already!