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Drake Music calls for an end to the justification of excluding practice in music education

7th February 2020

A new paper looking at inclusive practice in music education has been released this week by Drake Music, a national charity which breaks down disabling barriers to music.

The paper – “What is inclusion? Making music is the key!” – tackles inclusion, a hot button topic in music education and the arts, in an accessible and practical way. 

The author of the paper, disabled musician, actor and activist John Kelly, commented:

“Inclusion is a hot topic in music education and the arts, but do we really understand what we mean by it? Are we all on the same page when it comes to what inclusion actually is? And is our understanding informed by lived experience?

“With this paper we don’t want to defend or define inclusion. We want to call for radical and bold action to end the justification of excluding practice”

The paper, released as a free download and available in PDF, EasyRead and audio formats, tackles these important questions head on. 

It discusses 4 principles which can be introduced into delivery of music and arts programmes to ensure they are inclusive: Belonging, Understanding, Participating and Achieving.

Belonging links to ideas of being welcome and being able to be yourself. Understanding is about being taken seriously and having input into how things are, rather than assumptions being made.

Participating is defined as being about active choices, pace and space as well as having fun. Finally, Achieving is about personal growth, confidence and self-esteem. 

The paper is firm in its stance that “All means All”, and in a call for an end to the justification of excluding practices in the arts and education.

This comes on the back of a campaign by Drake Music for the music education sector to diversify its workforce and for Disabled people to be better represented. 

What is inclusion? Making Music is the Key was written by Disabled musician, actor, activist and member of the DM family John Kelly, in collaboration with the wider DM team.

It is the outcome of development work within DM involving Disabled and non-disabled people. It is informed by the Disability Equality movement and its articulation of the principles that underpin and drive inclusion, including the Social Model of Disability.

Carien Meijer, Chief Executive of Drake Music commented:

“What is really important about this paper is that it is a living document, a snapshot of our current thinking, understanding, experience and practice of inclusion within Drake Music.

What is also important to understand is that this document is not finished. It can’t be, because our inclusion journey is not finished.  Over the past decade we have experimented, listened, learned and developed our approach, organisation and practice significantly. And we will continue to do so, and to find new ideas and ways to be inclusive.” 

It is hoped that this paper will help organisations across the music education sector to begin or further their own inclusion journey and that they will adapt, change and challenge it as they do so.

Download the paper here.