Founded by Adèle Drake in the mid-1980s, Drake Research Project (as then was) set out to prove that physically disabled people could actively take part in music making, thanks to the advances being made in music technology.
Up until that point, music provision for disabled children and adults was mostly therapeutic intervention, as most traditional instruments require dexterity and particular physicalities as a pre-requisite to achieving musical virtuosity.
Cumbersome Atari computers and Cubase software were state of the art music technology in the 1990s, and the charity attracted the support of the likes of Jools Holland and Andy Sheppard.
However, both technology and disability rights activism have changed the landscape for accessible music-making since that time, and Drake Music now works in a very different way.
Under the leadership of Carien Meijer from 2006, Drake Music’s approach has developed to support innovation, to have disabled musicians at the heart of the work and to be underpinned by the Social Model of Disability.
Cheaper technologies and the internet provide many more ways of breaking down disabling barriers for musicians and the emergence of a ‘hacker’ culture and maker movement means that we can prototype and build new instruments quickly and cost-effectively.
The DMLab was established in 2010 in response to these changes, fusing accessibility with cutting edge technology, and attracted support from a new advocate: Imogen Heap.
Drake Music now works with all musicians who identify as disabled, from beginner to professional level in school, arts and community settings.
Since Drake Music was established as a charity in 1993, we have provided upwards of 100,000 music-making opportunities for over 1,000 disabled people.