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UK music education lacks disabled access says report

The charity Youth Music has published an extensive report on the issues facing disabled music students in the UK

The charity Youth Music has published an extensive report on the issues facing disabled music students in the UK.

The report, Reshape Music, was published on 14 October and is the first ever national survey into disabled people’s experiences of accessing music education and working in music. Developed with the Take It Away group of music charities, the research team included eight disabled musicians and was curated from the responses of hundreds of music makers, teachers and retailers.

The principal findings showed that disabled people are deterred from entering the world of music by lack of suitable teachers, adapted instruments and routes to funding.

According to the report, 52% of disabled people surveyed were unable to find a teacher who understood their learning needs and the support they required. This was exacerbated by only 27% of music education hubs providing adapted equipment as part of their instrument loan service. Most music equipment retailers were unaware that such instruments were even available.

Youth Music believes the timing of the publication could not be more appropriate. As the entire music world is having to rethink its ways of working, it believes the time is ripe to address long-standing issues that obstruct inclusivity. By prioritising this into the re-structuring of music education, thousands of people will no longer be prevented from expressing themselves through music.

Discriminatory and particularly alarming

The report sets out the urgent need for music education and the music world in general to improve access and choice to disabled musicians, to open their access to a musical career and to upgrade the skills of music teachers.

Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music, says the idea that Britain’s 13.3 million disabled are being excluded from music is unacceptable. ‘While there has been some progress, particularly over the last five years, Reshape Music illustrates in very stark terms that the views, lived experience and expertise of Disabled people are still absent in the planning and delivery of music education and music-making.

‘As a result,’ he says, ‘policies, programmes and infrastructure are often developed in a way that excludes their involvement and participation. This is discriminatory and particularly alarming.’

Read the full report here.