Year 1 of Think22 – all about inclusion

At the end of year 1 of Think22 – our strategic musical inclusion programme funded by Youth Music – we wanted to share some of the highlights of training we’ve held, inclusive projects we’ve delivered and the impact we’ve made through our advocacy work.

From April 2018 – March 2019, we have shared our practice with a huge 68 music orgs nationwide and have worked with over 590 people in the music education sector!

Workforce Development

As the people sharing their love for music and inspiring the next generation of composers and performers, the music ed workforce is absolutely central to the mission to make music education more inclusive.

We work with music hubs, teachers, music leaders and musicians to:

  • share our practice
  • build skills, confidence and knowledge around how to remove disabling barriers to music
  • develop knowledge around inclusion and the Social Model of Disability
  • increase the diversity of the workforce, including training emerging Disabled music leaders
  • share our enthusiasm for what music tech can do in the classroom

In Quarter 1, we delivered 6 training sessions across the country, including a training session on the use of technology in inclusive environments for MA Teaching Musician students at Trinity Laban. We also contributed to a Skills Share Day at Norfolk Music Education Hub.

Summer 2018 saw us deliver 3 training sessions and a keynote presentation and Kellycaster performance at Birmingham Music Service, led by Ben Sellers and John Kelly.

Through a doorway we see Ben getting tech ready for a workshop
Ben prepping an inclusive music tech workshop

This was delivered with Birmingham MEH with the aim of raising awareness of the Social Model of Disability and providing practical steps in removing barriers to music making for young disabled musicians.

During this time we also reached music leaders at Hull MEH, THAMES and Cumbria.

In Quarter 3 our specialists provided accessible music sessions on sampling, improvisation, song-based workshops and continued to deliver training on the Social Model of Disability. We ran training sessions in Middlesborough with musinc Hampshire MEH with Hants Music Service, in Harrogate with NYMAZ, in Oxford with Ark T and Oxford MEH.

A big highlight for the Think22 team had to be presenting at the Music Mark Annual Conference for Music Education Hubs on Soundbox with Joe Blackmore (a participant), Dav Shiel (a DM Asosciate Musician) and Alison Porter of THAMES.

Joe shared his experience of being part of the Soundbox group, where musical partnerships are formed and large and small scale performances are given every year, saying: “I come from a very musical family and I have been going to watch my parents and sister perform from a very young age. Thanks to Soundbox they now come and watch me perform as well.”

Our workforce development activity in the final quarter of year 1 saw an exciting Inset Day for THAMES Tutors involving an introduction to Drake Music and the Youth Music- led Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England (AMIE) along with practical training workshops on accessible music tech led by Cassie Gurling and Graham Dowdall.

We held training sessions for LEAP (Learning Education Access Participation) Talent development program, Portsmouth MEH tutors and East Sussex Music Service tutors.

Working with partners

Across the year we worked closely with partners, reaching a total of 68 organisations working in music inclusion nationally, including 23 Music Education Hubs.

We also continued our delivery of projects with disabled young musicians. A new inclusive ensemble, the Inclusion Collective, was launched for disabled and non-disabled children and young people in Essex with sessions held at the Saturday Music School in Braintree.

Oliver plays harmonica in front of a ploughed field, wearing sunglasses.
Oliver Cross

This is part of our ongoing partnership with Essex Music Service. This aspect involves not only music making delivery, but also workforce development through the formation of the team working on the Inclusion Collective. The team includes Oliver Cross, a Disabled musician who is part of our Emergent Trainees programme, Essex Music Tutors and Drake Music Associate Musicians.

Soundbox – the inclusive ensemble for disabled and non-disabled young people in partnership with THAMES, Spitalfields and LSO – continued its musical journey, with 15 sessions throughout the year, where 19 young musicians attend regularly.

Advocacy for inclusion

Alongside delivering fun and engaging music sessions with young people, and working with teachers and music leaders, we also campaign for inclusion.

Our advocacy work over this past year has continued to focus on the urgent issue of the lack of representation of Disabled people in the music education workforce.

Our campaign gained national recognition when it was featured in the Guardian with an article titled: “Music education should be inclusive. So where are the disabled teachers?”.

This article has been shared 200 times from the Guardian site and has been widely read and shared within our networks too.

Our advocacy work covers everything from presenting at the AMIE National Meeting on ‘What Inclusion Can Mean in Music Education’ to an article in Voice Mag UK highlighting the biggest challenges faced by Disabled musicians in the industry.

We were also interviewed by Music Mark  about ‘The importance of partnership’, where we discussed the resources we offer to the music ed sector and shared our take on what partnership means when working with music education hubs.

What’s next?

We have a lot of exciting activity lined up with our Partners for Year 2 and we are soon to launch a brand new training course: Inclusion and Music Tech in Practice. 

This day-long session brings together the principles of the Social Model of Disability and hands-on musical inclusion practice through the use of tech. The course is  devised and delivered by Disabled and non-disabled trainers working together.

Keep your eyes peeled for more info coming soon and if you’re inspired to get involved with our Think22 programme, then drop us a line to

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