How can you possibly assess a child’s musical performance when you’re not physically in the same room as them?
That was a challenge we were faced with at the beginning of, and throughout, lockdown. We knew, however, a solution could and should be found. Music plays a vital role in mental health and wellbeing at the best of times, so we knew how valuable our young musicians would find their music-making at a time when so much else was uncertain in the world. We needed to find a way to continue our assessments remotely, and by making use of technology.
We were delighted to be asked to present on this subject at the Music Mark Annual Conference in Brighton, in December 2021, where we shared our findings on our approach to our Inclusive Access to Music-Making (IAMM) project.
IAMM is a partnership between OHMI, Creative United, Nottingham Music Service (NMS), and Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT). It involves auditing the needs of all children in an incoming WCET cohort; and identifying the accessible instruments, enabling equipment, staff training and other interventions needed to offer disabled pupils the same parity of WCET access as their peers. As such, IAMM seemed a perfect test case for assessing physical needs without a physical visit.
Here’s how we approached the project:
There have been a number of positive outcomes to this new remote approach.
Firstly, the reduction in time, travel and cost of undertaking the assessments have allowed the IAMM project to be scaled much more effectively. The social return on investment is clear; of the 77 students identified as having possible physical needs, 28 have already been assessed by video and 44 pieces of enabling equipment have been provided. Without remote assessment, these children may not have been identified in time and ahead of their WCET.
Secondly, being able to show the video of a child’s assessment to the hub teacher, provides a quick and easy to understand visual of the child and how they may need support before approaching the school.
Finally, the wider application of this approach. Whilst the focus of this particular project was on WCET, it could equally be used by parents looking into instrumental options for their children, or by instrumental teachers considering potential difficulties a disabled student may face. Another step towards helping those with an upper arm difference to pursue their musical ambitions…