LooperDooper – musical ownership & access

The two short films below are from the MUSE ‘Listening Aloud’ project at New Fosseway School Bristol and Threeways School Bath (2013). The films show musical activity in school using the ‘LooperDooper’ software that was developed in partnership with teachers throughout the project. LooperDooper is designed to be very easy to use and enables pupils to record and play back sounds as repeating ‘Loops’ using switches or a touch screen. LooperDooper is free to download from http://openupmusic.org/looperdooper/


In both films I am working one-to-one with pupils as a visiting music specialist. Although it can be difficult to timetable one-to-one music sessions during a busy school day, the feedback from staff in the films below clearly demonstrates the increased benefits of one-to-one attention. The skills learned by each young person during these sessions are now being used by them in group music sessions led by school staff, in ways that were not possible before. Some examples of class music sessions are shown in Music in other subjects in SEN Schools.

Both Tom and Georgia’s music making is being assessed against the Sounds of Intent framework.

In the first film, Tom’s own vocal sounds and some percussion sounds are recorded and played back as loops using a microphone and switches. I also record some vocal sounds myself as part of the musical dialogue. Tom is a very ‘hard to reach’ pupil with ASC, and in the film his teacher and music therapist discuss the benefits that this kind of music making has for Tom in school.

In the second film, Georgia records sounds from a range of acoustic instruments into LooperDooper using a microphone and switches, before choosing and identifying the sound of each instrument. Due to the physical barriers that she faces, many of these instruments are challenging for Georgia to play in conventional ways. But the act of recording and playing them back as loops transforms her performances into musical motifs that are more controllable for her (via switches), and which express her identity and musical preferences. I think they also sound really beautiful, rhythmic and quirky! In this film, Georgia’s teacher also comments on her music making and the progress she has made.

Why is this effective practice?

Showcasing and validating each young person’s sounds, and their individual ways of making music, to establish ownership, connection and a sense of musical identity at school.

Using simple and affordable music technology to engage disabled young people in music making at school, in ways that would not be possible otherwise.

Extra benefit of one-to-one time to develop skills that can afterwards be used in group and whole-class music making.

Use of Sounds of Intent framework to assess the activities and suggest progression routes.

Use of a kind of intensive interaction through technology (Tom).

Learning the names of musical instruments and learning to identify their individual sounds (Georgia)

Demonstrates the focus, engagement, learning and development that SEN/D young people can achieve through music in school.

Teacher Feedback – Tom from OpenUp Music on Vimeo.