The recent experience of presenting on the Drake CDI at the NAME conference (enough acronyms?) has left us with food for thought. The presentation itself went well, with positive feedback from those attending; but equally, the conversations and meetings we had during the day caused us to pause and consider the current state of the disabled/ SEN music education ‘sector’.
I use the word sector with due caution; despite all the examples of excellent practice by schools, music services, community musicians and other music educators, these pockets of work are often fairly isolated, disconnected and scattered around the UK. Many accomplished music educators are working very hard and extremely passionately from the point of view of their own particular experience e.g. PMLD, SLD, EBD but are not always able to usefully relate these experiences to other areas, which, although technically different are ultimately linked by the same agenda of breaking down disabling barriers to music.
And back to those acronyms…a colleague recently suggested – not without a sense of humour – a terminology ‘amnesty’ where professionals could bring their own definitions to the table without fear of potentially being criticised for describing their work improperly. Effective communication should be a strength for the sector rather than a potential barrier.
On the topic of communication, the sharing of best practice is particularly prescient for our own CDI work. From the start we were conscious of not ‘re-inventing the wheel’; we would have been delighted to have found out that an existing project was already up and running. At one of the meetings at NAME we attended, the Special Educational Needs Special Interest Group (SEN SIG – those acronyms again!) many of us described our own, very different experiences of delivering Wider Opportunities work in various parts of the UK. By the end, we agreed the need to pool our experiences and resources and maybe present at the next National Music Services conference.
And this is the point: wherever relevant, we need a collective response, not only with the aim of improving music provision for every child, but also supporting each other as professionals. The CDI wasn’t created to specifically do this; but we have started to see that it has the potential to begin to draw together the kaleidoscope of provision out there.