Skip to content

Building an Accessible Technology Library

21st June 2024

With our Digital Innovation in Music Education Virtual Conference just around the corner, we spoke to Ben Rapp and Ben Sellers to find out more about their session, ‘How to Build an Accessible Instrument Library’. Read on to get a preview of the session, as they share Lancashire Music Hub’s journey in creating its accessible music library, and why this work is important. 


Could you both introduce yourselves? 

Ben S: Hi, I am Ben Sellers and work closely with music hubs, orchestras and arts organisations nationally and internationally to increase the quality and consistency of their education offer for young people with additional learning and access needs, with a particular focus on the use of technology. 

  Ben R: Hello, I am Ben Rapp and I am a Regional Manager at Lancashire Music Service and I’m part of the Senior Management Team for the service. Part of my remit has been to create the Lancashire Music Service music technology strategy. Our innovative new accessible instruments and music technology library forms part of that piece of work. 


What was Lancashire Music Hub’s journey in creating its accessible music library? 

Ben R: Our ambition was to create a library of accessible instruments and music technology that specialist schools in Lancashire could borrow.

It would mirror our acoustic instrument offer, offering lesson plans and support from specialist practitioners, with the aim of offering every young person in Lancashire an instrument that they could create, perform and progress with, regardless of need.   

We worked with specialists from Drake Music, as well as classroom teachers and instrumental tutors to choose and pilot the instruments, working in seven specialist settings in the first half of this year to try out the kit and develop resources and best practice that could be shared across the county and, soon, nationwide.  


Why is this work important for other hubs and services to consider? 

Ben S: There is a paradox for hubs considering instrumental provision for young people with ALN: decisions on instrumentation must be based on the needs of individual pupils, but hubs need to buy equipment in advance – often to budget deadlines and limitations – in order for pupils to try different options and figure out what works best for them. We hope that our research, piloting and resource development, based on input from dozens of teachers and hundreds of young people, will provide a good basis for hubs considering developing this area. 

Whilst the ten instruments in the library are by no means the definitive guide, and a well-apped iPad is still the go-to instrument for many young music-makers, the resources and ‘how-to’ guides that we have developed give a model of what is necessary for hubs who want to ensure that, as well as instruments, they have a teaching team ready to use them. 


What will delegates gain from your session at the DIME conference? 

Ben S: As well as demonstrating some of the instruments, we will also discuss how we nurtured our ‘inclusive tech champions’, and how other hubs could do the same. We will talk about how to ensure the full range of needs is catered for, and how to achieve buy-in from schools, teachers and colleagues. 

Ben R: I hope delegates will learn about the process that we have been through in order to come to the end point of a library of cutting edge resources that Specialist Schools can borrow from. The new Capital Fund for instruments and technology provides the perfect opportunity for other services and hubs to develop something similar going forward. We will also showcase the resources and help videos that Ben S has created which will be available at no cost and hosted by Charanga. We hope that we can roll this out to mainstream schools following the first year with our Specialist Schools only accessing the library. 

Interested in learning more? Join us next Tuesday, 25th June, for the Digital Innovation in Music Education Conference to watch the full session from Ben and Ben alongside the rest of our fantastic programme, including a session on strategies for gender inclusive learning and our Keynote from Dr Mat Dalgleish, ‘Beyond Novelty: A More Social and Reflective take on Musical Interfaces and Music Technology’. Book your ticket now!