Designed and launched by Creative United in partnership with OHMIDrake MusicOpenUp Music, Youth Music and Music for Youth, the aim of this research is to capture a detailed picture of the experiences of disabled people regarding music making.

Currently, no national data sets are available on this issue. Consequently, it is impossible to gain an understanding of the access issues and inequalities in the provision that exists for disabled children and young people with an existing or as yet undiscovered passion for music.

* This research has now been completed.  The findings have been published and can also be downloaded here: Make Some Noise – Key Findings

Next Steps

  • The Consortium is working on a number of initiatives to help address the barriers identified in the research, including the recently announced collaboration with the Nottingham Music Hub which you can find out more about below.
  • The findings are also being shared across the music sector with educators, funders, and policymakers to help inform the planning of future projects and investment.

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 findings

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.


Equal opportunity

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.”


Nottingham Music Hub Pilot

A pilot initiative was launched in May 2019 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 Partnership developed in response to the findings of the Make Some Noise research, launched in November 2018 by the Take it away Consortium. The research identified Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) as a frequently cited barrier to music making for disabled children who are educated in mainstream schools. Both parents and music educators reported that WCET was often not accessible, and not meeting the needs of many disabled pupils.

Thanks to all partners involved, the pilot initiative will enable children with additional needs to participate fully in making music through Whole Class Ensemble Tuition at primary school in the current academic year.

Prior to engaging in this pilot programme, NMH received very little or no information in most cases about pupils ahead of commencement of WCET. As such, no preparation could be done by the Hub to address the needs of any individual pupil ahead of going into schools.
They also reported that they had only ever been made aware of a tiny number of students with additional physical needs who would benefit from adapted instruments in the history of their delivery of WCE, yet figures from the Department for Education show that 121 children currently in mainstream primary schools in Nottingham have a physical disability as their primary type of need.

In June 2019, as part of this pilot initiative, an online questionnaire was sent to all 76 Nottingham City Primary Schools. 57 schools (75%) completed the questionnaire, which helped to identify 78 pupils across 25 schools who would benefit from additional support with WCET as they faced significant barriers to instrumental music making.
Thanks to all partners involved, individual plans to enable each child to participate in WCET with parity of access and experience with their peers could be implemented.

Crucially, all these interventions and resources were put into place ahead of the start of the academic year in September, meaning children could start their WCET experience on a level playing field.

None of the 78 identified children would have been brought to the attention of the hub prior to the start of term had the pilot not been instigated, and so none of these resources would have been able to be identified or supplied.

The progress of the cohort across the academic year and beyond will now be monitored as part of the initiative and all partners hope to see a proportionate number of the identified children continue with music making beyond first access in comparison with their peers.

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