DM Musician Ray De Grussa Wins Adult Learners’ Week Digital Participation Award!


Drake Music musician Ray De Grussa wins the Adult Learners’ Week Digital Participation Award!

© Caters Photographic
© Caters Photographic

Ray De Grussa is a disabled person in his late 40s with significant physical, communication and literacy impairments.  He lives in a care home in Sheffield and for years, dreamed of making his own music. As a result of his impairments and limited access to the wider community he has faced great disabling barriers accessing music-making opportunities, as well as more basic communication such as internet, email and word processing. Drake Music and Sheffield University worked with Ray over an eighteen month period to enable him to complete elements of Sheffield University’s “Music and Creative Media” course, and compose his own music.

Drake Music associate Fil Hill worked with Ray for only a few hours a week, using The Grid 2 software to control his laptop, enabling him to create music, study and communicate. Learning to master this complex software as well as gaining composition skills was extremely onerous and time-consuming, and has taken great perseverance, determination and commitment.

Ray has gone from writing a few notes in the space of an afternoon, to composing full-length compostions for a variety of instruments using Sibelius software, which have later been performed live. Ray will receive the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education(NIACE) Adult Learners’ Week Digital Participation Award, including £250 towards his learning, on Monday 14th May 2012 at the National Awards Ceremony, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.


Ray tells us of his journey,

“I have always wanted to learn music but have not been given the opportunity to do so because of my disability. I have tried for three or four years to get on a music course of some type.  Each time I applied I was told that it wasn’t possible to accomadate my needs. This learning opportunity has made so much difference to the way I now view myself and interact with people, it has been so much more than about learning music. With the help of Drake Music , I have become  computer-literate for the first time. I can communicate with my friends and family, read and keep more informed.” 

After performing alongside mainstream musicians in 2011, with the help of Drake Music, Ray is currently investigating other opportunities to teach and perform his own music.

Drake Music aims to increase access to formal music education and accreditation for disabled people.  However we also recognise that success isn’t just about gaining formal qualifications, but the whole learning process and other skills one gets from taking part in music education.

“I’m delighted that Ray has won this award. It illustrates his great tenacity as a person and reminds us that it is never too late to begin learning a new skill or, indeed, fulfilling a dream.” Gemma Nash, Programme Manager NW, Drake Music.


David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive, said,

“Every one of our award winners, for this year’s Adult Learners’ Week, illustrates how learning can help people to change their lives, make them feel part of their community and help support them in their future. Ray’s life has improved because of his commitment, enthusiasm and ambition. I hope that others will be inspired by this story and see the role that learning can play to help them get a better life.”


Please see Ray in action – Video footage of Ray in action


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