Inclusion matters – ideas for inclusive music making, teaching and sharing

A pioneer, scholar, musical genius, champion and campaigner for equality -Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder

I recently attended the Hackney Learning Trust’s music education conference on the 24th of April and was reminded that inclusion is about more than just disability but: socio economic status, ethnic background, gender, age and  IT literacy (an interesting one for another post  all of it’s own)  to name but a few.  It was a fantastic day and I must thank James Thomas and the team at Hackney Learning trust (HLT) for the opportunity to attend and contribute. The event honed some of my thoughts on inclusion and the wider impact of inclusive activities.

So inclusion matters, I think we would all agree, but what I want to focus on here is the two way street. We all benefit from mixing it up, and not just once in a while.  One of the speakers at the HLT event quoted some interesting research about young people in London and the fact that they do not tend to stray off their patch. In fact they tend to stick to their own and this seems counter intuitive in the melting pot of opportunity that is London but in many ways this is how we cope in a cultural melee. We are, after all, creatures of habit.  As always music can help, acting as a social lubricant and facilitator of cultural exchange, broadening our horizons.  If we can involve ‘inclusion’ and ‘inclusive’ practice more in our music education programmes then it becomes a natural part of young peoples musical view. Music is for sharing, and it helps us cross the tracks. (A quick nod to Maceo & the Macks here:


Here is an idea for a  ‘Heineken’ of an inclusion project that should refresh the parts… well you get the idea.  I can’t take all the credit here as this idea was originally floated by Brian Keachie of Inverclyde council in Scotland.

Get young GCSE, and A level music students to do ride-alongs with community musicians or music practitioners engaged in SEN music projects.  Aside from the many benefits of engaging with this type of project, young musicians will also get to see how else they can apply their skills as musicians, their ‘trade’ if you will, to make a living and benefit their community.  Whilst it is still highly likely that we will all become rockstars, jazz legends and virtuoso instrumentalists it is important for our young musicians to see how music works in the bigger picture, with a broader worldview, and how it can work for them.

FunkadelicIt will also help them redefine their view of music, to bring it off the page and see it at work as a living breathing facet of human behaviour. To engage with their own musicality.  It is also extremely likely that they will encounter some novel use of technology and learn how to use some new kit as the application of music technology in this area grows and grows.

It will benefit the SEN project by providing musical role models or mentors that are culturally relevant to the young people involved.

I know of a few services who are looking at the idea of theses creative partnerships and will keep the nuggets coming when and where I can on this with examples on the Skoog front.  Obviously there will be a bit of red tape and admin required but if we can just offer this initially to students, these creative placements, then I think the rest will follow.