Introduction to Music at Treloar School

In this short film students and staff from Treloar School share their experiences of taking Drake Music’sIntroduction to Music course. When SEN Music Teacher Jocelyn Watkins contacted Drake Music in 2010 she was relieved to discover that she was not alone in the difficulties she faced trying to put disabled students at Treloar’s through accredited music courses such as GCSE. Having identified similar issues through our own work, Drake Music’s ‘DM Education’ initiative aims to increase access to accredited music courses and formal assessment for disabled students, including the creation of the Introduction to Music course.

Despite requesting exemptions from certain coursework areas for individual disabled students, Jocelyn had been frustrated by a lack of flexibility from some examination boards:

“I have found it extremely hard to find any music course that would suit my students’ needs… It was almost heart-breaking to watch some of the students, who were A grade students in other subjects such as English, fail on some of the parts of the music due to their physical disability”

Some of the students you see in the film might not have passed existing music courses because of the disabling barriers that they face in relation to conventional coursework and exam requirements. However, Jocelyn felt that Drake Music’s Introduction to Music course could provide a more flexible, inclusive and accessible model for her students.

“Introduction to Music is the first course that I have ever found that is specifically designed with special needs students in mind… All the resources are accessible and fully inclusive and, as the sections of the course are stand-alone, it means that even if I have a student who is off for a term for an operation they will still have the certificate for the units they have achieved…”

In September 2012, Treloar School began delivering the ITM course independently of Drake Music and in November 2013 Jocelyn was named Classic FM ‘Special Needs Music Teacher of the Year’.

Introduction To Music was created by Drake Music in partnership with AptEd. The course can be accredited at Entry Level, Level 1 or Level 2 and is designed to be fully inclusive, enabling disabled and non-disabled students to work together. It combines practical performing and composing activities with learning and assessment resources for Clicker software, which is physically accessible to almost any student. These software resources also provide a useful course framework, although teachers should be prepared to adapt and extend the resources further to match the particular needs and interests of their students, as well as their own teaching style.

The course comprises four units that can either be taken individually as stand-alone units, or linked together to form a complete course. The units are: Music Skills for Performance, Creating Soundtracks for Films, Writing Music Down and Composing Music using Chance Methods. In this latter unit (discussed in the Treloar school film) students explore methods used by composers like John Cage, before composing and performing their own ‘chance’ composition. Although it might sound quite ‘high brow’, this unit can be great fun and is particularly useful for students who may not be in a position to play the same notes in the same way every time (due to a physical impairment for example,) while still providing the opportunity to clearly define the rules and conditions within which a musical performance takes place.

The list of schools and colleges now delivering Introduction to Music is growing steadily. For more information about the course, please email phone 020 7739 5444 or view the ITM web-page.