There are a huge range of disabling barriers to music-making which can stifle the creativity and expression of young musicians.
For example, lots of young people have their first experience of creating music on a recorder – available for as little as £3.59, according to Google.
Recorders are accessible in price as a starter-instrument, but not always accessible in use. For example, playing a recorder requires specific types of manual dexterity and breath control.
Overall the range of accessible instruments is much less broad than the range of traditional instruments and it can be hard to find musical kit which is affordable, accessible and suitable for entry level use.
The same could also be said of the other end of the spectrum, where professional disabled musicians we work with find it difficult to find an accessible instrument which offers the opportunity for true virtuosity and deep musical expression.
With this understanding we work to create new forms of accessible instruments across our Research and Development programme, DMLab.
As part of this, our team have been taking their work into the classroom with surprising results… one of which is the impact on the teachers, as well as the young musicians.
A teacher at a school in Kent who participated in the R&D schools project commented: “I think there has already been massive impact of the work, just in addressing my pre-conceptions of my pupils’ potential, the physical products that have been made will be great to carry on using and exploit as much as we can, get as much as we can out of them.
And with me it’s just instilled a desire to learn the tech, I mean that anything is possible really, with a bit of understanding. Because I’m always furious at how much inclusive things cost, and how rubbish a lot of them are. So to be able to work with Gawain to make things that would cost an insane amount of money is incredible really.”
We hope that this work will continue to inspire teachers to be open to their students’ potential and to be open to exploring tech themselves too.
Have you tried developing any DIY music tech in your classroom? If not what would inspire you to give it a go?