Training for Mayo Music Education Partnership


A few weeks ago  I had the opportunity to deliver Disability Equality Training (DET) to music tutors working for Mayo Music Education Partnership in the Republic of Ireland. MMEP co-ordinates music services within the county, and has a core aim of developing music education opportunities for all young people.

As part of their newly developed music education plan, they are hoping to create an instrument bank for County Mayo, containing a number of accessible instruments such as Soundbeam, switches with relevant software, and iPads, etc.

MMEP invested in a two-day training package, comprising a day of DET accompanied by an assistive music technology (AMT) audit and practical training session.  Completing an equipment audit and investing in AMT training is certainly a good start to any inclusive music education plan. Too often our equipment audits reveal instruments such as Soundbeam languishing unused in cupboards, due to a lack of advice and training given to music services staff when the equipment was first purchased.

Our nationwide consultation carried out last year into disabling barriers to formal music education revealed that UK special schools have often felt let down by a lack of communication from music services. In the UK, the National Plan for Music Education has highlighted the need for newly-formed Music Hubs to address this and other pressing issues relating to accessible music provision. Is it heartening, therefore, to see organisations outside of the UK also giving thought to music provision in the SEN/D environment.

Investing in DET is important to ensure that disability is seen as an equality issue and that removing disabling barriers is a crucial element of developing music education opportunities for all.  This isn’t just about using the right language or PC concepts, it’s about displaying a willingness to be inclusive.    Very few of the participants had had DET before, but were keen to learn new concepts and explore the possibility of working in new ways. It is worth noting that sometimes, even music leaders who’ve worked with SEN/D children for some time may not have had basic training in areas such as language, terminology and the social model.

During training, the musicians explained that from time to time they encounter unhelpful attitudes from school staff and parents, particularly around low expectations of children, and a general unwillingness to be flexible.  Just like anywhere else Mayo has many schools with excellent staff and forward-thinking parents. But the problems raised did make me ponder the need to build Disability Equality Training into Drake Music projects such as RAMPitUP! in order to guarantee a legacy of disability awareness as well as a legacy of accessible music-making for those schools and organisations that really need it.

MMEP DET session_0


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