The Nottingham Music Hub (NMH) will pilot a new approach to ensuring that disabled children are able to participate fully in making music through Whole Class Ensemble Tuition at primary school.

Research recently conducted by a Consortium of leading access to music organisations has found that a lack of knowledge about the existence of adapted instruments is a major barrier to ensuring parity of opportunity for disabled children.
Virtually all standard musical instruments require two highly dextrous hands to play and hold them, and so without the right enabling equipment and/or adaptations many children are being unnecessarily excluded.

Despite the Department for Education’s stated commitment to “equality of opportunity for all pupils, regardless of … whether they have special educational needs or disabilities”, the Consortium found that no national data set exist on levels of participation in music by disabled children. Moreover, their survey findings show that less than 25% of parents with disabled children and only 54% of music educators responding to the survey agreed with the statement “I know how and where to source an adapted musical instrument”.

Rachel Wolffsohn, General Manager of The OHMI Trust (OHMI) a charity dedicated to music-making for physically disabled people, said OHMI has shown that traditional instruments can be adapted for any number of disabilities, but that’s only half the story. We desperately need projects like this one with the NMH and Creative United, to bring the instruments and teaching skills to the children. We are really excited to be a part of it.”

The pilot initiative being launched next month by NMH in partnership with Creative United and The OHMI Trust will aim to identify and respond to the specific needs of all children in Year 3 of mainstream primary schools across the city, ensuring that they are able to take part fully in the Whole Class Ensemble Tuition that forms part of the standard curriculum of education in Year 4.

The pilot has been initiated by Creative United which operates the Take it away scheme, an Arts Council England funded initiative that aims to make the purchase of musical instruments and associated equipment and accessories easier and more affordable for parents wishing to support their child’s learning and participation in music.

If successful, the partners hope that their approach to building the knowledge and confidence of both parents and teachers around the availability of adapted instruments and equipment will be adopted more widely, helping to substantially increase the number of disabled children being actively encouraged to participate fully in learning and playing music from an early age.