National Centre for Early Music

[Skip navigation]
Navigation Menu

Inclusivity Music Conference and Showcase

Music4U took part in this event organised by NYMAZ and Accessible Arts and Media and held at the Sir Ron Cooke Hub at the University of York on 1 March 2014.

We were joined by workshop leaders Stepehn Heselton and Nikki Potter from Music and the Deaf and a group of young people from the Yorkshire Music Group who are an ensemble of young deaf musicians who meet regularly to play together and create new music. The group demonstrated how their music sessions worked and gave conference delegates the opportunity to learn and experience how to make music truly accessible to people of all abilities. 

Delegates were shown a range of valuable exercises, which are used to engage deaf young people in music-making. These exercises teach various skills including recognising notation, recalling rhythms and composing using a specific set of notes or a particular key. The session culminated in the young people playing their own improvisations based on the C scale. They first performed individually and then played simultaneously for one big finale. Their interpretations were wonderful, ranging from a chromatic rendition to an arpeggio version. 

After the session Annabel Hanson talked about Music4U's research project which examines the current level of provision for young deaf children across the Music4U region and identifies examples of national and regional best practice.

As part of the conference, Music4U also offered opportunities for young people to gain hands-on experience of the music and instruments of another culture, namely Indonesia. The University of York's Gamelan Sekar Petak took up residence and was opened up for young musicians and delegates to explore its sounds and sensations. Gamelan Sekar Petak is a set of traditional instruments from the island of Java, comprising bronze gongs and metallophones and carved wooden drums. The instruments were handmade in Surakarta, in Central Java, by Tentrem Sarwanto in 1981 and were crafted especially for the University of York. The name Sekar Petak, which translates as 'White Flower', was given in honour of the white rose emblem of York.

Young people from Castaway Goole's 'The Sloop Group', Accessible Arts and Media's 'York IMPs' and various adult delegates and carers joined community musicians and gamelan specialists Emily Crossland and Jade Flahive-Gilbert for an informal workshop, in which participants heard traditional pieces, learnt about the background to the instruments, explored traditional and contemporary playing techniques and developed their own improvisations. Some young people also had the opportunity to take on leadership roles, conducting others and making decisions about the music. The workshop was supported by students from the University of York.

For more information about Music4U's gamelan work, please visit www.ncem.co.uk/exploringgamelan.