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Resources and Courses

ABRSM Graded Music Exams

By dougbott - 10/09/2011

ABRSM now offer a comprehensive set of guidelines on their website for candidates with special needs who want to take Graded Music Exams:

ABRSM Performance Assessment

By dougbott - 10/09/2011

ABRSM offer the Performance Assessment as an alternative to their Graded Music Exams in acknowledgement of the fact that 'an exam is not always the most appropriate kind of assessment'. Participants can play their own choice of repertoire and come away with a written report containing constructive comments and advice from a member of the ABRSM examining panel.

Accessible Singing Resources from Drake Music & Sing Up

By dougbott - 25/05/2011

Drake Music have created accessible singing resources that Sing Up member schools can download from the Sing Up Song Bank website. (For Sing Up membership details, click here.) These resources are designed to fully involve SEN/Disabled children in singing activities as part of the Foundation stage / KS1 / KS2 curriculum, including children with physical impairments, communication difficulties and other special needs.

AQA Unit Award Scheme

By dougbott - 05/09/2011

AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) offer an extremely flexible accreditation framework called the 'AQA Unit Award Scheme'. The scheme includes scores of ready-made music awards, as well a system that enables music educators to create their own awards, which can then be accredited by AQA.

Arts Award

By dougbott - 07/06/2011

Arts Award is a national qualification which supports young people aged 7-25 to develop as artists and arts leaders. You can do an Arts Award in any area of the arts from fashion to poetry, rapping to dancing, sculpture to film. The award fosters creative, communication and leadership skills and helps to prepare young people for further education and employment.

The Arts Award framework is very flexible, making it approachable and accessible to many disabled young people.

ASDAN short courses

By dougbott - 06/09/2011

ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) offer a wide choice of flexible, activity-based curriculum programmes that can be used in a variety of educational contexts with learners working at a range of levels.

BTEC Entry Level Award in Performing Arts (Entry 3/ Level 1)

By jonathanwestrup - 08/08/2011

Drake Music are currently delivering BTEC Entry Level Award in Performing Arts (Entry 3/ Level 1) to two classes of students at Claremont Secondary Special School in Bristol. The school have not run an accredited music course before and Drake Music are piloting accessible, re-usable teaching and learning resources as part of the delivery.

Clicker 5 music resources at Learning Grids World

By dougbott - 19/09/2011

Learning Grids World is website where any registered Clicker 5 software user can create an account to download and share Clicker 5 Grid Sets for free. Clicker 5 is increasingly being used to make music accessible to SEN/Disabled learners across the curriculum. Clicker 5 can be accessed using switches, touch screens, joysticks, trackballs and any other means of control, in addition to the conventional computer keyboard and mouse.


By dougbott - 05/09/2011

Figurenotes is an alternative to conventional musical notation which has been used successfully by young people with learning difficulties (including some on the autistic spectrum) in Finland and Scotland. Figurenotes can enable the use of notation within formal music education where conventional notation might otherwise present a barrier.

Introduction to Music course - accessible accreditation from Drake Music

By dougbott - 21/09/2011

Introduction To Music is a new, accessible music course created by Drake Music in partnership with apt awards (formerly known as OCNSWR - Open College Network South West Region). The course can be accredited at Entry Level, Level 1 and Level 2 and is designed to be fully inclusive, enabling disabled and non-disabled students to work together.

LCM Leisure Play music exam

By jonathanwestrup - 13/07/2011

Available in all music subjects, London College of Music offer Leisure Play music exams as a performance-only alternative to graded exams. [NB Leisure Play exams are not accredited, they are assessment only.]

LooperDooper music resources

By Barry Farrimond - 19/11/2013

LooperDooper can help pretty much anyone make music including musicians with a range of special educational needs and disabilities. It has been co-designed by students and staff members at three special schools in the South-West of England as part of Listening Aloud, a research and development project funded by Youth Music, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the MUSE Project.

MIDI Grid 'Grid Play' software resources

By dougbott - 05/09/2011

The Full Pitcher have produced music resources for MIDI Grid music software. MIDI Grid is accessible to disabled people using almost any means of computer access - switch, joystick, trackball, SmartNav, Eye-gaze etc.

There are two sets of 'Grid Play' resources available either on CD Rom or to download:

Music and Dyslexia

By dougbott - 21/12/2012

The British Dyslexia Association and Music Teacher Magazine have produced an excellent 'Teacher Guide To Music And Dyslexia' which is available to download as a PDF file here:

The guide is free but a voluntary donation of £3 would be gratefully received by the BDA.

Music and the Deaf - Keys to Music Guides

By Danny Lane - 08/11/2011

We are regularly asked for advice on how to deliver music and the arts to deaf children. In response to this - the "Keys to Music" series were developed and published. These user-friendly guides were devised to help teachers and parents to fully include and involve hearing-impaired chiuldren in music and the arts. The existing National Curriculum schemes of work were adapted to suit the needs of hearing-impaired children and were researched in a range of schools to assess the improvement in accessibility of the arts curriculum to deaf pupils.

P Scales Level Descriptors

By Alex Ivanovich - 27/10/2011

P Scales are a format for assessing progress for students who are operating below National Curriculum Level 1. This useful document (which can be downloaded as a pdf file here) describes how to assess what level a student is at for a wide range of subjects. Level descriptors for music are on pages 27-29.

PCS symbols for composing music

By jonathanwestrup - 14/09/2012

This resource is designed to enable students who face communication difficulties to issue clear instructions when composing music using a music software sequencing programme like Garageband or Audacity (you can find download instructions at the bottom)

Prima Vista braille scores and other resources

By Lydia at Prima Vista - 19/09/2011

Prima Vista publishes braille music and carries out research and development in braille music technology projects. Visitors to Prima Vista's website at can browse by ear for braille editions and then buy them as digital downloads or embossed scores. The catalogue ranges from pop to classics and is constantly growing, but if you don't find what you want, you can send an email to

RNIB Music Advisory Service

By dougbott - 04/09/2011

The RNIB Music Advisory Service (MAS) is an information resource for people with sight problems. The MAS web-page contains information and advice on music education at all levels, from the earliest signs of interest to advanced studies. The MAS team can also be contacted direct via telephone or email - see the web-page for contact details.

Skoog resources

By skoogmusic - 27/09/2011

Here's a whole bunch of lesson plans for using the Skoog in the classroom as part of the music curriculum from Early Years to KS4.

The Skoog is an exciting new musical instrument designed to empower those unable to play traditional instruments. The Skoog is a soft, squeezable object that simply plugs straight into your computer or laptop's USB port. By touching, pressing, squashing, twisting or tapping the Skoog you can play a wide range of instruments, intuitively.

Sounds Of Intent

By dougbott - 31/08/2011

Based on extensive research and observations over 10 years, Sounds of Intent is an assessment framework for those making music with children and young people with learning difficulties (ranging from PMLD to SLD to autism). SoI is designed to help teachers and parents relate what they observe in music sessions with a child into more concrete statements/ levels – and then to plan activities that will support progression to the next level within appropriate timescales.

The Grid 2 Music Resources

By dougbott - 21/10/2011

The Grid 2 is computer software that provides 'an all-in-one package for communication and access'. Within formal music education, The Grid 2 can enable disabled students to use music software on a PC that might otherwise be inaccessible.

Trinity College Music Certificate Exams

By dougbott - 08/09/2011

Trinity College Music Certificate Exams assess a musican's performance on a musical instrument.  Music Certifcate Exams are more flexible and adaptable than Trinity's Music Grade Exams, consisting of a performance of pieces without the assessment of Technical Work or Supporting Tests and permitt

WJEC Music Entry Level

By jonathanwestrup - 04/08/2011

WJEC’s Entry Level Music forms part of their wider 'Entry Pathways' suite of credit-based units. All Entry Pathway units sit within the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and aim to provide students with flexible and personalised programmes of study. 

ZoobieDoo song book

By dougbott - 07/06/2011

This song book was created for children in special educational needs settings as part of Sing Up's Beyond the Mainstream programme. It's a great resource for singing within the Foundation stage / KS1 / KS2 curriculum. The 8 songs and 6 characters were dreamed up by Anna Batson, Nick Grew and Ben Ballard, as well as children from special schools in the Plymouth area. One of the characters, Bernard the Gurnard, appears throughout the book in a hot air balloon and is billed as the "ultimate fish out of water on a voyage of discovery with some weird and wonderful friends".


Worcester Snoezelen Centre and LCM Leisure Play music exams

By jonathanwestrup - 18/11/2011

Like many I suspect, my first question about the small, Worcester-based charity ‘Snoezelen’ was ‘What does Snoezelen mean?’ The word - a mix of two dutch words for sniffing and dozing – perfectly evokes the experience offered by the charity: a multi-sensory environment for people with severe

Accessible Singing At Stephen Hawking School - Using Sounds Of Intent

By Gary Day - 02/05/2013

Natalie is a pupil at Stephen Hawking School in Limehouse, London. In this video she is participating in call and response, singing a song called 'Nanuma', which is a traditional song from Ghana.

Andrew Cleaton at The Music Education Expo

By andrewcleaton - 08/07/2013

In March of 2013 I attended the Music Education Expo at which I had the opportunity to speak at the Drake Music TeachMeet.  I - along with a number of others - had been invited to briefly consider the question: "What does best practice mean for SEN/Disabled children in music education?"

Drawing on my own 25 years of experience of leading workshops in a variety of settings, this 7 minute talk is a whistlestop tour of some of the key issues that I have found to be useful/important in my work - especially when considering the use of technology.

Autism has Talent says Beverley School Choir

By Karen and Carolyn - 09/10/2013

Beverley School is a specialist school and college in Middlesbrough for pupils with Autism and has a very successful school choir. All members of the choir have severe autism with asociated learning difficulties and find singing enjoyable, and motivating. Singing is something that gives them a focus and helps to build confidence and self esteem.

Bradley Warwick and the Drake Music 'Introduction To Music' course

By jonathanwestrup - 25/05/2011

Like many teenagers his age, Bradley Warwick is passionate about music. In this sense he is unremarkable; however, in 2010 he became the first student to pilot Drake Music’s Introduction to Music course (accredited by OCNSWR - Open College Network South West Region - 2013 update OCNSWR has now changed to apt awards), achieving a Level 1 pass for all four units. Bradley’s success is especially significant because he has Cerebral Palsy and uses an electronic VOCA (Voice Output Communication Aid) to speak.

Breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ to get a degree in music

By Mark Rowland - 25/05/2011

I didn’t have the opportunity to gain accreditation in music at my special school, so it was 10 years before I finally got a place to study music at LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) in 2001. From LIPA I moved on to Chester College, from where I graduated in 2006 with a degree in Commercial Music Production. If my school had offered the opportunity to be accredited in music, it wouldn’t have taken more than 15 years to get my degree!

Here’s some background on my work with Drake Music, and my journey towards getting my degree.

Brilliant Connections - A short film about music hubs and special schools

By jonathanwestrup - 03/09/2014

This film is called 'Brilliant Connections' and discusses how music hubs can best support special schools (NB: if you experience 'buffering' issues, click on 'Pause' button and wait approx. 45 secs before clicking 'Play')

Call & Echo - Accessible Singing At Stephen Hawking School, London

By Gary Day - 14/05/2013

In this video the Teacher and Teaching Assistants are doing a ‘call & echo’ singing activity with 5 pupils, during a Drake Music/Sounds Of Intent session at the school. They are using only 1 microphone and when there is a break in the song, it is the pupil’s turn to sing (do the call) and the rest of the group then reply by repeating the sound back (doing the echo).

Charlotte White - Bronze Arts Award

By dougbott - 25/05/2011

In 2008 Charlotte White gained a Bronze Arts Award through working with Drake Music at St. Rose’s school, Stroud. While it was undoubtedly a really good thing to have her musical achievements accredited, a Bronze Arts Award was, quite honestly, a poor reflection of Charlotte’s actual academic and musical abilities. In the same academic year she achieved an A and three A-stars at GCSE in English Languge, Media, RE & Art - the latter achieved largely through mouth painting, and she is now (2011) at the University of Kent studying for a degree in Sociology and Criminology.

Claremont Students make their Bristol Debut!!

By pamvivuk - 11/07/2012

Tuesday 22nd May 2012 was a very exciting day for 6 students from Claremont Secondary School in Bristol. They were to perform live on the stage in Millennium Square in Bristol for the Olympic Flame Celebration!!

These students all have some degree of physical difficulty and have been studying for a BTEC in performing Arts by using Accessible Music Adaptations provided by Drake Music. They had been practicing for many weeks after composing their own music. This is no mean feat and involves many forms of technical support for both the students and their helpers.

Disabling barriers to formal music education - consultation

By dougbott - 08/03/2012

In Autumn 2011, DM Education carried out a nationwide consultation into disabling barriers to formal music education. The consultation findings are posted here in the 'Experiences' section of the DM Education web pages becuase they represent a signficant insight into the experiences of the SEN/Disabled young people / musicians, teachers and music educators who shared their views.

Ian plays the Soundbeam (and rocks out to Nirvana...)

By jonathanwestrup - 25/04/2013

This film clip is from a Drake Music BTEC Performing Arts session at Claremont Secondary Special School in Bristol. The school caters for children from 2 to 19 years old who have physical disabilities and a range of additional and/or associated learning needs, sensory impairment and a range of health needs.

Introduction to Music at Treloar School

By jonathanwestrup - 18/12/2013

In this short film students and staff from Treloar School share their experiences of taking Drake Music's Introduction to Music course. When SEN Music Teacher Jocelyn Watkins contacted Drake Music in 2010 she was relieved to discover

Live Music Now's Musician in Residence project

By Drake Music Nor... - 12/12/2013

Live Music Now has been working in Princes Primary School in Liverpool since January 2013 as part of a Youth Music-funded Musicians in Residence programme.

The programme aims to support children’s musical development as well as their personal and social development through participation in group music activities and some 1:1 sessions.  Carla Sousa - an LMN musician has been doing weekly half day visits, enhanced by termly concerts by Live Music Now ensembles and CPD sessions for staff.

LooperDooper - musical ownership & access

By Barry Farrimond - 19/11/2013

The two short films below are from the MUSE ‘Listening Aloud’ project at New Fosseway School Bristol and Threeways School Bath (2013). The films show musical activity in school using the ‘LooperDooper’ software that was developed in partnership with teachers throughout the project. LooperDooper is designed to be very easy to use and enables pupils to record and play back sounds as repeating ‘Loops’ using switches or a touch screen.

Making the music curriculum more accessible in Gloucestershire Special Schools

By Alex Ivanovich - 19/09/2011

In the summer term 2010, I was given the opportunity to visit every special school in Gloucestershire on behalf of Gloucestershire Music Service (GMS). I was tasked with assessing each school’s needs in terms of accessible music resources and training, in order to improve access to the music curriculum in each school. GMS also set aside Wider Opportunities funding to buy new instruments and music resources for each special school in the county.

Music in other subjects in SEN schools

By Barry Farrimond - 19/11/2013

This short film is from the MUSE ‘Listening Aloud’ project at New Fosseway and Briarwood Schools in Bristol and Threeways School in Bath (2013). The film shows musical activity in school across different curriculum subjects using a range of simple and affordable music technology that was developed in partnership with teachers throughout the project. 


Music Leadership skills using BTEC and ITM courses

By acheffings - 22/05/2014

Students from Ash Field Academy perform a rhythm piece as part of their BTEC and Introduction to Music work (NB: the video will begin playing automatically beneath the accompanying text)


Musical Arc's 'Equal Sound' initiative

By Musical Arc - 19/06/2013

Musical Arc's 'Equal Sound' initiative enables mainstream school children to make music and create art with disabled people within the childrens' own classrooms. Sessions are led by Music Arc practitioners with the disabled volunteers leading sections of the delivery.

My deaf child and learning to play music

By National Deaf C... - 25/11/2013

Vijeeth and his dad Vijay tell us about his deafness and learning to play the guitar. Find out more about childhood deafness on our website:

Ofsted SEN film case study: Whitefield Schools and Centre

By jonathanwestrup - 24/04/2012

This 15 minute film is part of the five 'Best Practice' case studies made to accompany the 2012 Ofsted report into Music Education ('Music in schools: wider still, and wider')... Whitefield Schools and Centre in NE London is the largest special school in Europe with more than 300 pupils on roll with a wide range of Special Educational Needs. The film shows a range of musical activities catering for the varied musical interest and needs of the children who attend the school.

Opera North Education - Octave Project

By Opera North Edu... - 30/07/2013

Opera North Education tailored a four week project of singing, song writing and movement work for a class of KS2 children with ASC (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in Leeds. The theme of the delivery focused on the Aesop’s Fable of the Crow and the Jug to link with cross-curricular work.

Pots and pans make perfect partners for percussion play

By dougbott - 31/07/2013

This was originally posted as a blog by Sam Procter (a teacher at The Milestone School in Gloucester), but it's such a great example of how the Sounds of Intent framework can be used to assess musical activity in the classroom that I've re-posted it here as a DM Education 'Experience'.

Saul's journey through the Bronze Arts Award

By Gary Day - 17/12/2013

This short film documents Saul's journey through the Bronze Arts Award. I began working with Saul in April 2010 after responding to an advert in Sound Sense from Saul’s mother Susan, seeking a ‘special needs music tutor’.

Sounds of Intent - halfway through a 16 week course

By dougbott - 21/01/2014

This was originally posted as a blog by Jon Hering, but it's such a great example of how the Sounds of Intent framework can be used to assess musical activity in the classroom that I've re-posted it here as a DM Education 'Experience'.

Sounds Of Intent Session - Amy playing the electric guitar using iPad app Thumb Jam

By Gary Day - 30/04/2013

This video is from one of the Sounds Of Intent sessions currently taking place at Cherry Garden School in Bermondsey, London.

Students imitating rhythms in a SOI session

By Filhill - 23/02/2014

This video was taken during a music session at Abbots Lea Assessment Centre during a Drake Music Sounds of Intent session. It illustrates a few things about the sessions that I was delivering with Jonathan Herring.

Supporting a disabled undergraduate music student

By Filhill - 09/09/2011

I recently assisted Ray De Grussa, a disabled student, with the first year of a Music and Creative Media degree course at Sheffield University. As a result of his achievements, Ray won the 2012 Adult Learners' Week 'Digital Participation Award'

Teaching assistant leading a song in a special school

By jonathanwestrup - 07/03/2013


This film clip is from a Drake Music RAMPitUp! session at Paternoster Community Special School in Cirencester. In the film a teaching assistant acts as conductor for a song about a recent school trip to Forest School, a local outdoors education centre. The students featured have an ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition) and/or learning difficulties.

Teachmeet Event on SEND music and good practice (Music Expo 2014)

By jonathanwestrup - 19/03/2014

Here is a 'Storify' blog about the Drake Music Teachmeet discussing good practice in SEND Music Education at the Music Expo 2014. It includes video footage of some of the short presentations where a range of speakers share their experiences.

The power of Arts Award in SEND settings

By funkypiecompany - 04/06/2014

The Funky Pie Company are a diverse team of artists who love to share their skills, knowledge and enthusiasm with others (NB The film will begin playing automatically)

Using iPads for the first time in a SEN school

By dougbott - 24/02/2014

These two short films show iPads being used in music sessions for the first time with young people on the Autistic spectrum at Uplands SEN School in Swindon (Jan - Feb 2013). The first film shows a group session, the second film shows a one-to-one session.

Please note - both films will start playing automatically at the bottom of the page! You'll need to pause them, then play them one at a time.

Using iPads to play 'Seven-Nation Army' by the White Stripes

By kellyjopadmusic - 27/04/2014

Year 10 students at Great Oaks SEN School in Southampton use iPads to great effect in this rehearsal performance.

Using Pitched Bells as an Interactive Music Tool for Sounds of Intent Assessment

By Jon Hering - 16/02/2014

This video clips shows an extract from a session at 'Abbots Lea at Matthew Arnold’ - a specialised assessment service for pupils aged 3 - 7 years with complex needs.

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