One of the greatest gifts a teacher can give is the opportunity to learn. Yet this often presents a challenge when catering for pupils with additional needs.
It’s certainly the case when ensuring Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) is truly inclusive. If a child is living with an upper arm impairment, how can she or he play a brass or stringed instrument which requires the use of both hands? An assumption often made is that it is impossible. It seems fairer for the child in question not to attend the music lesson lest they feel excluded.
As the UK’s leading authority on adaptation of traditional instruments, the musical instrument charity, OHMI, is uniquely positioned to provide solutions that give pupils parity of experience with their peers, and enable teachers to use uniform pedagogical approaches across a whole class.
However, before it could provide the appropriate instruments, OHMI needed to assess where pupil needs lie. In 2019, the charity launched its pioneering Inclusive Access to Music-Making (IAMM) programme with Nottingham Music Service (NMS) and Creative United. The objectives of the project are three-fold: to identify the needs of physically disabled pupils; to produce a plan for WCET; and to provide accessible instruments, enabling equipment, staff training and other interventions.
The results of the pilot were particularly compelling.
It identified the needs of 78 children who faced a barrier to instrumental music-making, 37 of whom had a requirement for adapted instruments and/or enabling equipment.
The success of the pilot led to the project’s extension in 2020. With the support of an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant, the project enabled the inclusion of a second year group of pupils in Nottingham, and to a second project with Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT).
In the latest survey assessing needs for the 2020-2021 academic year, 37 schools in Nottingham and 42 schools in Northamptonshire have identified pupils who would benefit from additional support on WCET.
Once needs have been pinpointed, the IAMM project serves to provide the most appropriate instrument or apparatus to allow each child to participate fully in the WCET sessions.
As Ian Burton, Head of Nottingham Music Service, comments,
“If there’s one thing I would urge schools to do, it’s this. However well intended, don’t make the assumption that an upper arm impairment precludes a child from making music to a high standard. OHMI has dedicated the last ten years to challenging assumptions on what’s possible but they can only offer help to the children that need it if advance notice is given to instrumental teachers of particular pupil needs.”
Peter Smalley, Head of NMPAT, is in full agreement,
“OHMI has come up with the most wonderfully innovative solutions for pupils in Northamptonshire. A trumpet stand which allows a pupil in Northampton to play his instrument one handed. An Artiphon which means two girls at a school in Daventry can switch to that instrument when bowing on their lap-held violin becomes too tiring. Where there’s a will – from the school, the pupil and from a Music Hub’s partnership with OHMI and Creative United – there’s almost always certainly a way.”
More information on the impact of the IAMM project in Northamptonshire, from the perspective of instrumental teachers Kate and John Bickerdike, is available here.
Music Hubs, teachers and parents wishing to find out more about the data identified and experiences and techniques delivered by the IAMM programme, are invited to contact OHMI at firstname.lastname@example.org.