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Research Shorts: Musical Play with Rosie Rushton

9th April 2024

This week I’m thrilled to be talking with researcher and practitioner Rosie Rushton, about her work and publications around ‘musical play’ for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).

Rosie has long hair, glasses, and is facing the camera, smiling. She is wearing a green top and has long light red hair.Rosie’s research considers the effect of music on the play experiences of people with PMLD, but importantly, it was co-produced with ‘people with PMLD, and their supporting adults, to devise and develop the Musical Play Framework.’

In one of the academic articles from this project, Rosie, with co-authors Lila Kossyvaki, Emmanouela Terlektsi, argues ‘Inclusive research has the possibility to reposition and reshape the relationships of individuals involved within the research process. Potential passive subjects of research can be involved as active contributors.’

So Phase 1 consulted with people with PMLD on their musical preferences using participatory design with proxies. Proxies are ‘a significant person, such as a parent or carer, is viewed as an expert in interpreting the communications of the key participants to make their communications discernible to the researcher.’ In Phase 2 of the work, teachers and teaching assistants were trained in the Musical Play Framework, they then implemented the sessions using a multiple-baseline design.

The research led to practical recommendations for the implementation of the Musical Play Framework, as well as calls for more work which is co-produced with people with PMLD:

‘Opportunities for people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities to contribute to the development of the products/concepts they may access in the future, acknowledges their viewpoints and perspectives as valid and worthwhile, and repositions them as active contributors rather than passive subjects within research.’

I asked Rosie a little more about her practice, and she explained that she is ‘a practitioner researcher, originally facilitating music-making sessions for people with learning disabilities in educational and community settings. Research into the Musical Play Framework developed, as a way to better understand, equip and facilitate access to playful music-making opportunities for people with PMLD when a music specialist wasn’t available.’

You can also hear Rosie talking about this work herself, as Rosie is introducing the framework on 24 April, as part of our New Directions in Inclusive Music series with MEHEM Uprising.

Read the open access article

Follow Rosie on X

Visit Rosie’s website

Interview by Dr Sarah K. Whitfield – Research Lead for Music Mark

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