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Innovative conference highlights music technology tips for SEN settings

2nd March 2015

Delegates from across the UK descended on the MAC Arts Centre, Birmingham recently for an innovative music technology conference organised by music charity Make Some Noise in partnership with mac. The conference shared some creative ways of using music technology to help engage with children and young people, particularly those in challenging circumstances.

The conference was aimed at teachers, music leaders and anyone interested in creative approaches in digital technology.

Those attending participated in a diverse range of interactive workshops by some of the leading musicians and educators in the sector offering cutting-edge insights, skills and advice about music technologies including those for use within SEN settings.

Topics covered ranged from composition and technology, song writing, performance and vocals, musical inventions, iPad Ensembles and more.

Key note speaker Mark Williams MBE, Chief Executive and Justin Spooner, Digital Associate for the arts organisation, Heart n Soul shared their experiences working with a number of groups, including children and young people and people with disabilities. Topics covered in the presentation included Heart n Soul’s approach to digital technology as a series of tools to fulfil a need for creative expression, and the way this approach has been implemented in their year-long SoundLab project, helping people with disabilities express themselves musically and collaborate with others using readily available musical technologies

With over ten years’ experience in applying new technology to create useful and practical solutions in real world settings, key note speaker Ben Schogler, Co-Founder of Skoogmusic Ltd and Co- Inventor of the Skoog presented an enlightening speech. Ben’s research in music, psychology and education has always placed movement at the heart of things. He introduced the Skoog, a colourful, soft and squeezable musical instrument which is designed for people of all ages, in particular those with special needs.  Colourful, tactile, and versatile, the Skoog is a truly new class of instrument that allows users to wirelessly control and manipulate a vast library of sound, as well as create new sounds via it’s companion apps. A successful crowdfunding campaign has enabled the Skoog team to bring the all-new Skoog 2 to market, boasting new features and software to help make Skoog an indispensable piece of technology for music educators.

A conference delegate said the conference was “great to network; great to see what’s out there and see how others do things.”

The variety of workshops on offer meant the day held something for all who attended, with delegates citing an improved knowledge of music technology and understanding of techniques and processes that will aid their teaching practice as a result. Many of the delegates present expressed a desire to utilise ideas and techniques learnt in workshops into the ‘Pop-up Band’ concept employed by SoundLab, where a musical experience can be accessed by all regardless of ability and feel active and creative.

John Simmonds, Programme Development Officer for Make Some Noise said: “We would like to thank our partner mac for their support in hosting this conference which we hope has inspired those attending. Make Some Noise has a strong track record of using a diverse range of hardware and software to successfully engage, inspire and motivate some of the most disengaged children and young people in a musical pathway, be it social or educational. We would be delighted to hear from any practitioners working within SEN or other settings who may be interested to find out more about  how Make Some Noise might be able to help them in their own work.”

The Enhancing Music with Technology conference was funded by a Musical Inclusion grant awarded by the National Foundation for Youth Music and supported by Music Mark.