Like many teenagers his age, Bradley Warwick is passionate about music. In this sense he is unremarkable; however, in 2010 he became the first student to pilot Drake Music’s Introduction to Music course accredited by OCNSWR – Open College Network South West Region (2015 update: OCNSWR has now changed to AptEd), achieving a Level 1 pass for all four units. Bradley’s success is especially significant because he has Cerebral Palsy and uses an electronic VOCA (Voice Output Communication Aid) to speak. Historically, very few students who face such disabling barriers to music have had access to a formal music education; fewer still have achieved an accredited outcome.
The key to success with the Introduction To Music course is that it comes with a comprehensive set of accessible learning and assessment resources, created by Drake Music for Clicker 5 software. Bradley has no significant learning difficulties, so by using the Clicker 5 resources to learn as well as assistive music technology to perform and compose, he was able to access every aspect of the course at Level 1.
Bradley used two switches to control Clicker 5 on his computer; independently learning about key musical concepts, watching films and listening to audio clips. He also completed a range of assessment tasks in Clicker without adult intervention. Bradley’s main musical instrument for performing is a MIDI Creator MIDI Sensor that he plays using his head. This enables him to play pre-determined musical scales on any instrument sound he chooses. He also uses switches to both trigger sounds and control expression effects like vibrato. Bradley composes music using two switches control Sibelius 5 software via The Grid 2.
Bradley’s achievement involved challenges that will undoubtedly be familiar to other disabled students and their teachers. Getting the most out of one session a week in a busy timetable that included therapies and numerous unforeseen events was not easy. Despite the access afforded by the Clicker 5 resources, it still took a fair amount of time to make the performing and composing tasks suitably accessible to Bradley. However, his success, coupled with the fact the course and resources will now be disseminated nationally, opens up new opportunities for other disabled music students.
In March 2010, he presented his work to a group of PGCE Music students at Bristol University using his Tellus VOCA. You can watch the video below: