‘Five films you must see before you teach another music lesson…’


DSCF0013Newspapers and magazines are fond of making lists of films that you absolutely, completely, without fail must see if you are ever to show your face in polite society again. The film I want to tell you about http://www.teachingmusic.org.uk/resource/16153 was not made in Hollywood, nor on a huge budget (think me + camcorder + no budget) However, I can report that the subject of the film has unquestionable star quality…

Bradley, who attends St Roses School in Stroud, is the first student to pilot the new ‘Introduction to Music’ course which Drake Music have written. Why does the world need yet another accredited music course? Well, strictly speaking it doesn’t; but what it does badly need are accessible, re-usable teaching and learning resources. After years of making music with physically disabled/ SEN students in both mainstream and special school settings, Drake Music have long noted that many of these students would love to be participating more in the National Curriculum for Music and also achieving accredited outcomes, but that the lack of accessible resources was acting as a barrier.

The resources for the ‘Introduction to Music’ course have been written using Clicker 5 software, meaning that students like Bradley can access the resources using switch access (in his case using a head-switch). This enables him to work independently, even take work home to do. Equally, the format ensures the course is accessible to any student, disabled or not (for more details about running the course, please contact me at (jonathanwestrup@drakemusic.org)

And so to the film: using his communication aid, Bradley discusses his work and experiences of taking the course in front of an audience of 30 PGCE Music students at Bristol University. His script was written by him with support from his Speech and Language Therapist at St Roses School (see the description attached to the film for more details of this) Later on in the film he answers questions from the students, displaying a laid-back manner not normally associated with teenagers asked to talk to an audience for 20 minutes. It’s an fascinating, funny and entertaining film (“Roy Orbison…”) interspersed with examples of his music. It demonstrates so clearly the creative achievements that young people like Bradley are capable of in music when they are afforded equal access to provision. I hope it serves as a real catalyst to all teachers and music educationalists who make music with young people with disabilities/ SEN.

And finally, back to those ‘best of’ lists; after nearly fifty distinguished (and grizzled) years of making music, American guitar legend Neil Young won his first Grammy this year. In typical fashion, whilst accepting the award he declared that “there is no best in music”. However, I’ll disagree with Neil here and declare an interest: in my humble opinion, Bradley’s work must surely be up there with the best of them.

Leave a Reply