Monday, 14 December 2009

NW Update

Stockport CP
The weekly sessions are continuing to go well for both the beginners group and the performance group. We have brought in Sam Yates and Fil Hill to deliver these weekly sessions, giving them new energy and flavour. There will be a Christmas performance of lively electronica with a twist of festive spirit on Friday 18th December, 1.15pm at the Moore Top Pub, Stockport. Please contact for more details.

From January 2010 we are working with two schools in Chester (Dorin Park and Upton Heath) to deliver another series of mixed media workshops culminating in a cross-artform performance as part of Chester Performs, May 2010. Songs of the Earth will act as a stimulus for the project content, to compliment other aspects of the programme, such as Mahler’s das Lied von der Erde, which is based on the idea of the seasons.

Sheffield University
Ray De Grussa is a disabled person who has been given a place on Sheffield University’s Music and Creative Media course. Ray has a significant impairment and experiences physical barriers accessing this course. Since September 2009 we have been training and Ray and his Tutors in assistive music technology to enable Ray to start the Musical composition: styles and techniques next term. Fil Hill has been delivering the training, and advising the University on appropriate equipment. There were a few delays as it took some time for the University to order Ray’s equipment. We will be working with Ray again next term.

Individual Support
We are continuing to get individuals asking for music lessons. In some cases they have been able to use their individual budget to pay for these lessons. We have worked with two people so far and received very positive feedback. One individual is expecting to receive more funding to enable him to purchase more lessons per week from January onwards.

Digital Beginnings
We are continuing to work with two SEN schools in Wigan. One school is mainly for children who are autistic, and the other is mainly for children with physical impairments. The workshops are going well and are proving to be a very valuable resource in helping the schools meet their yearly targets. This is particularly relevant for one school, which is currently in special measures, and needs to meet various targets before April 2010. The schools have links with JBB Stadium, and are going to approach them for support and to arrange a visit for the children to get their inspiration. The Inset day is planned for January 2010.

Lancasterian School
We recently delivered an eight week MOO project culminating in a CD of exciting electronica and hip hop. The school loved the work so much that we are going to help the school apply for funding to deliver another project in either the spring or summer term.

Music Leader North West have provided funding for professional development and networking for Drake associates, trainees and volunteers. Next year we will be organising specific training around soundbeam and live software, as well as another networking day for the NW team.

Future Partnerships
We are in discussions with various schools and organisations, such as Imperial War Museum, Band on the Wall, FutureEverything and Full Circle Arts, regarding exciting new projects, showcases and performance opportunities…. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

South West News & updates

Emerald Ensemble 'Preludes' Project
Drake Music are working in partnership with the Emerald Ensemble on a new project commencing in Bristol next year. We will be delivering music workshops on mondays starting in the Spring term to children at Ilminster School, South Bristol. This is a mainstream primary school with an SEN unit attached and some of their pupils face significant physical barriers to participate in music. The Emerald Ensemble plan to run the project over 7 years using approached such as Hum & Drum, Kodaly, Dalcroze and Colour Strings

Brewery Arts
We are working in partnership with the Brewery Arts Centre and Gloucestershire Youth Service to run a pilot project of inclusive arts activities for young disabled and non-disabled people aged 11 - 16. Our Associate musicians will be collaborating with an animateur to create an original film and soundtrack in 6 one off workshops. The workshops will take place in Cirencester and Bourton on the Water on Saturdays through January and February 2010. The project is designed to provide short breaks for disabled young people and their carers and is funded by Gloucester County Council.

Claremont School
We have worked with Claremont School this term to help them raise funding to continue our successful programme of workshops with their students begun in 2000. The school have secured a grant from the Quartet Foundation to enable Drake Music to restart our work with the school in 2010

Digital Beginnings
Workshops commenced at Penrose School, Bridgewater, Somerset this term as part of Digital Beginnings. Penrose is a day Special School for children aged 2 - 19 years with severe and profound multiple learning difficulties. Alex Ivanovich and Clive Radford are working with four groups of students, 19 young people in total. The sessions will culminate in a performance in the Spring term.

Sing Up
We are currently editing a short film of, and evaluating the pilot project sessions delivered in the summer term. The first 5 songs for which accessible singing resources have been created will be available to download from the Sing Up Song Bank sometime in January. We are in the process of making resources for a further 10 songs. We are also in the process of planning training on accessible singing both internally within Sing Up, and externally.

Barrs Court Music Motivator
Alex is continuing to create resources, lesson plans and to train teachers and local musicians at Barrs Court School in Hereford as part of this Youth Music funded project. This project is already proving extremely successful and could provide a new model of working for some of Drake Music's work in schools.

Training Day
Drake Music are running an open training morning at Colston Hall, Bristol in February 2010 for all music leaders, funded by Music Leader South West. The session will give an overview of the work of Drake Music in the South West and an introduction to the use of assistive music technology for disabled musicians, as well as a chance for networking and skills sharing. During the afternoon there will be a 'closed' CPD session for all current Drake SW associates.

For information on the Curriculum Development Initiative, see the CDI blog

We have been successful in securing a grant of £3,000 from the Joyce Fletcher Trust for our schools programme in the South West. The work will be planned and delivered next year.

Doug gave a presentation on the work of Drake Music at the 'Inclusion Inspires' conference, organised by Music Leader West Midlands at Birmingham Symphony Hall on 16th November. Jonathan and Gemma will be presenting on Drake Music's Curriculum Development Initiative at Music Learning Live on 25th February at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Doug has been invited to speak at and take part in a panel discussion focussing on successful partnerships at the South West Federation of Music Services conference in Torquay on 25th Janurary. Doug will also be presenting at the Bristol Music Educators Conference on 3rd Feb at the Colston Hall, Bristol.

St Rose's School
Our work with pupils at St Rose's School in Stroud has continued this term and has been well received by both students and staff. Fran Billington, headteacher, said that our work was excellent and extremely valuable however they are unfortunately no longer in a financial position to pay for our services in the immediate future. The school hopes to continue their relationship with Drake Music in the future and we are looking at alternative funding for the work.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Drake Music gears up for PQASSO

Hi everyone,

I would like to share with you that I have been at the Implementing PQASSO training on the 29.and 30.September 2009.
PQASSO is a quality assurance system for Voluntary Organisations that will not only improve the systematic working of an organisation but is also recognised as a quality mark that qualifies us for local government funding.
In the near future we will set up a PQASSO working group, that will gather the evidence for the 12 quality areas of PQASSO, which are planning, governance, leadership and management, user-centred service, managing people, learning and development, managing money, managing resources, communications and promotion, working with others, monitoring and evaluation and results showing that Drake Music operates according to the requirements of a quality mark.
So... what this space...

All the best,
Christine :-)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Digital Beginnings update

The inter-regional, Youth Music funded 'Digital Beginnings' project is now up and running in the North West, East Mids and will start soon in the South West. For regular updates please check out the separate Digital Beginnings Blog which currently features posts from Merlyn (NW) and Alex (SW) as well as a growing list of free / cheap software for use in schools.

The Digital Beginnings project has a separate blog so that it can be used by pupils, teachers and anyone else involved in the project.


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

NW News & Updates......

Consultancy work at Sheffield University
Ray is a disabled person and a keen music enthusiast producing his own
music using Cubase and Grid 2 for several years. He has been trying
to get a place on Sheffield University’s Music and Creative Media
course for the past three years. Ray has a significant impairment and
experiences physical barriers accessing this course. Sheffield
University employed us to write a report with recommendations in how
to make the course accessible to Ray.

Based on our recommnedations, Ray has now been accepted on their Music
and Creative Media course. This is a real achievement for Drake Music as
well as Ray. Sheffield University have proposed Ray and his Tutors
undertake training and preparation during the semester 1 (September to
December 2009). Following which Ray completes one module in Semester
2 (January to May 2010): Musical composition: styles and techniques.

The Prospectors Performance
The Prospectors, Stockport CPs resident band, performed at Granville
House on the 7th August. Their regular audience enjoyed a lively
collection of classic pop covers and upbeat remixes of old school
house tunes.

Stockport CP beginners
These weekly sessions are continuing with more focus on individuals
and their development and using new techniques to ensure full access.

Individual Support
We are still receiving requests from individuals wishing to purchase
one to one music lessons. We have successfully delivered 4 weekly
sessions for an individual in Stockport and received very positive

Digital Beginnings
We are continuing to work with two schools in Wigan. One school
primarily deals with children who are autistic and the other deals
with children that have significant physical impairments. The 5
observation sessions went well and we will be delivering the sessions
in September. One school has approached JBB Stadium for support and
to arrange a visit for the children to get their inspiration. We have also extended the project to include Lancasterian school in Didsbury and will start work there in September.

We Are Here
The sound and mixed media installation based on a theme of 'Journeys
and Maps' was a huge success. Linking in with multicultural and
multilingual communities from Gorton Education Village, the six pieces
focused on 6 geographic regions of the world: China (SE Asia) and
Africa, Carribean and Pakistan/India, Eastern Europe and Middle East.
We are hoping the success of this project will lead to further
partnership work with Band on The Wall

As part of Full Circle Arts animation / film project, we delivered an
exciting and fun workshop for eight young disabled people. We
facilitated the production of four pieces of music to accompany
animation produced during the project, which was then aired at the
celebratory event at the Zion Arts Centre on the 26 July. To see the
work, please see

Music Leader NW have agreed to support us with associate team training
for this financial year. Our team training day will take place on 17
September, and will be an opportunity for our associates to network
and reflect. Doug Bott will be facilitating discussions around best
practice and new technologies. Following this we will be organizing
small group training sessions on specific technology such as Soundbeam
and Live.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Youth Music Mentees (Camden, London)

We are looking for young disabled musicians aged 15-25 living, studying or working in the London Borough of Camden to take part in our exciting new mentoring programme.

You will get the opportunity to work with one of three music mentors for 10 hours (over 5 weeks), with support from our music technologist.  Our mentors are all highly experienced disabled musicians.

The mentor programme will help you:

*Set goals
*Encourage areas of talent
*Build your confidence
*Develop you as an artist
* Support your progression in music

Whether you play an instrument, sing, use Assistive Music Technology or compose, either as a solo artist or as a band or collective, the mentoring programme could support you (for example in highlighting areas for development, making connections and networking, setting up your own gigs or music installations, broadening your existing influences or listening, widening your audience, career development and personal development).

This FREE opportunity is open to young disabled musicians working, living or studying in the Camden borough who:
*Are aged 15-25
*Play a musical instrument (including Assistive Music Technology such as Soundbeam or switches), or sing or compose music
*Have a keen interest in their own development as an artist
*Are considering music either as a career or as a route to personal development, or both
*Are either a solo artist or a group
*Are passionate about music!

To apply for a place on the programme or to apply on behalf of a young person you work with please request an Information Pack by calling 020 7739 5444, 
by email or 
by post to Drake Music, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

London updates

Connecting across Difference

We have now completed the evaluation process for this project.  As you know, the final performance was in March 2009 and the whole project was a huge success.  We are currently feeding back to funders and will use the evaluation documentation for future funding bids and to inform the way we work in London and in other regions. 

Holloway Arts Festival

Anya Ustaszewski and Gary Day have just completed a series of 5 workshops at The Bridge School as part of this project.  The children there have composed a piece of music plus a percussion part which accompanied the Holloway Arts Festival procession on 4th July (the percussion part was performed by children from two other schools in the borough). 

The theme for the day (which included projects led by other artists and organisations including costume-making, poetry-writing and other fun activities) was the score of Alice Through the Looking Glass, a musical play composed by Stephen Daltry.  Gary and Anya had the opportunity to visit Stephen at his home prior to starting the work to go through his score and discuss his inspiration/composition. 

Youth Music Mentor programme

Drake Music has been commissioned by Sound Connections as part of their Youth Music Mentor programme.  It is funded by Youth Music and each partner organisation is paid a fee of £7500 to deliver mentoring to 10 young musicians in a specific borough.  We are representing Camden, however by prior arrangement we have left 3 spaces open to students at George Green school in Tower Hamlets.  

Anya, Victoria and Melanie (our 3 CAD associate musician mentees) are the adult mentors delivering the programme.  It is a really exciting step in their development and we will bring in Daryl and Lynn (our 2 CAD mentors) to offer some support to them over the course of the programme.  It is also a chance for the 3 mentors to take the lead on the project and have a more substantial input into the development and planning of this kind of work.  Nick Wilsdon will continue to work as music technologist on this project and support the young musicians with any practical or technical advice.  We are currently in the planning stages and hope to start the delivery of the mentoring at the end of summer/beginning of September.

Melanie will also take on the role of project co-ordinator for this project, with support from me as I am currently managing the London programme.

The Orpheus Centre

Following the success of our 9-week series of sessions led by Gary at the Orpheus Centre a residential performing arts centre run by Richard Stilgoe (one of our patrons), I met with Danny Bravermen who is head of their learning/education and outreach work.  I am currently liaising with them and planning a programme for the whole of the academic year 2009-10.  Their focus is on personal development and independence, so this is an interesting partnership for future work.  

THAMES/Beatrice Tate School

Beatrice Tate school was one of the partners for CAD.  We have been approached by THAMES to deliver a further project at the school on their behalf (as they currently do not have any practitioners specialising in music for disabled children/young people).  I am liaising with THAMES about costs (as the cost to the school is below our current full-cost recovery, THAMES may choose to subsidise some of the work).  The project would be for 4-week chunks of work at the start of each term (so a total of 12 weeks) 2 sessions per week. 

Disability Awareness Event

Victoria Oruwari performed at the Disability Awareness Event at Guy’s Hospital on 24th June.  This performance has been paid for by Guy’s Hospital and she will be sang a 10 minute set of 3 varied songs.  The audience and staff were hugely impressed.


  • Roundhouse: we have given them a quote for a joint project, there will also be other opportunities in the future for partnerships.
  • Individuals: We currently get quite a few enquiries for individual sessions.  Some of these might be paid for by the individual musician through new ways of receiving social services support.  Unfortunately at present we aren’t able to offer anything for people who aren’t able to pay for the service (or fund it somehow).  Ideally I would like to look at developing options for individual sessions/adult group work that might be open for people to attend.  At the moment we don’t have the capacity to even start to plan this work.
  • George Green: I am in liaison with George Green school who want some more work in the new academic year.  We will finalise what they want within the next few weeks (before the end of term) and hope to start delivery in September.
  • I am submitting a funding application to Goldsmith’s Company Charity to support the programme in the London region, at present we are only working for fees and always at full cost.
Anna (Betty) xx

Monday, 15 June 2009

NW News & Updates......

The Prospectors Performance
The Prospectors, Stockport CP’s resident band, performed at the Stockport Beer Festival on the 29th May.  With a few new members and a good sized audience they performed an energetic and inspiring set of
classic pop covers and remixed nineties dance tunes. We are hopefully performing at the Mind Body Boogie festival in August, more details to follow.

Stockport CP beginners
These weekly sessions are continuing with more focus on individuals and their development. The participants have requested a performance for friends and family at the end of term.

Consultancy work at Sheffield University
We have been employed to provide some Consultancy for Sheffield University to enable them to make the contents of their Music and Creative Media course accessible to a potential student who has significant impairments. Ray has been trying unsuccessfully to access this course for 3 years.

On the 9th June we attended an initial consultation with both the student and staff to establish the physical barriers this student faces and current structure of the course and technical set-up.  We are now producing a report detailing the software and hardware needed to remove barriers as well as suggestions for adapting course material.  This report will include information on software/hardware costs and providers and research into the various options available.

Individual Support
A couple of individuals have approached us about using their individual budget to buy in our services to deliver one to one music lessons.  We have been booked to deliver 9 weekly sessions for an individual in Stockport starting on the 3rd July

Digital Beginnings
We are now working on a joint project with two schools in Wigan.  One school primarily deals with children who are autistic and the other deals with children that have significant physical impairments. We have started the 5 observation sessions and will begin delivering the sessions in September. We have funding for 2 terms and the schools are looking into finding funds via their connections with Wigan rugby club for a 3rd terms work. 

We Are Here
We are working in partnership with legendary Manchester venue Band on the Wall and Gorton Education Village with pupils from mainstream and SEN schools to produce a sound and mixed media installation in the school. The project will be based on a theme of 'Journeys and Maps', linking in with the schools' multicultural and multilingual intake. The six pieces created will focus on 6 geographic regions of the world:  China (SE Asia) and Africa, Carribean and Pakistan/India, Eastern Europe and Middle East. The project is lasting 2 terms and is entirely funded by Band on the Wall.

We are delivering our first project in partnership with local disability arts organisation Full Circle Arts. Re-mix is a summer project for disabled young people with creative workshops leading to a celebratory event where the work will be shared. If this project is successful, we hope to offer more music workshops from September.

We are in the final negotiations with Music Leader NW who will support us with associate team training for this financial year. This should allow the NW team to have a few days training before term starts in September and to then meet once a term.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

East Mid's in the sun! (for now...)

Hello... busy times here so just a quick update with what's happening now, more to come! Music Our Way which is a music tech course for older young people in the region is going really well with some interesting pieces of music emerging. Over 35 people have been involved so far and the project will end with a performance night in Mansfield at The Old Library in July..

Drake Music and Salamanda Tandem

Arts Work with People in Nottinghamshire Seminars

14th and 15th July 2 - 5pm

Dear Arts, Health and Care Professionals

If you or anyone you know is interested in arts, and disability work in Nottinghamshire do get in touch!

In order to contribute we would like to invite you to one of our consultation seminars:

14th July 2 - 5pm at Drake Music - Blue Water Studios in Ollerton, Nottinghamshire
15th July 2 - 5pm at the Salamanda Tandem offices in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire.

Its all about how we can help support and develop a fertile arts and disability practice in Nottinghamshire over the next few years. We have been commissioned by Nottinghamshire County Council's Arts Service, to undertake a consultation project with both experienced professionals and other artists who may be new to the field but are interested in reaching disabled people through the arts in Nottinghamshire. For development to happen we need to look at what the barriers are for arts, health and carer professionals working in Nottinghamshire - e.g. work opportunities, funding, volunteering, training issues etc and would therefore like to know your thoughts.

Salamanda Tandem and Drake Music are conducting the seminars, and there will be a series of focused questions to discuss. If you can't make either event but would like to contribute, we can send out the questions to you via email, or if you'd rather have a chat by telephone that would be great too.

Please forward to anyone you feel would like to make a contribution.

RSVP by July 10th 2009.

Warm Wishes

Shirley Novak

East Midlands Programme Manager Drake Muisc

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Two Tick

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to share the good news that Drake Music was awarded in April with the "Two Tick - Positive About Disabled People" symbol to use with all our recruitment and publicity. This symbol is awarded by Job Centre Plus to promote organisations which comply to their 5 comittments. You can find further information about this here

This award is reviewed annually.

Enjoy the sunshine everyone!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Tromsø Videos

Footage of the three sections of Havmannen's Sønn featuring Charlotte's compositions are now on YouTube:

The sønn is born

The sønn plays with the birds

His mother is alone

Bear in mind, this was performed in temperatures of about -8˚ !

If you're unaware of the background to this work, check out previous posts on this blog:

I can't believe they ride bikes here

I found heaven on earth!


Thursday, 9 April 2009

Free software

There is now a Digital Beginnings blog to document this programme of work which you can link to from the blog list on the right.

The first post lists free software which can be of use to schools and other musicians. We plan to add to and edit this list as the project progresses.


Tuesday, 31 March 2009

South West update - March 2009

Hi there!

Things feel very different at the end of the spring term to how they were at the beginning and we're looking forward to a full programme of music sessions for disabled school pupils in Bristol and the surrounding area throughout the summer term. I don't have enough time to go into the creative focus for each session unfortunately, but here's an outline of what we're doing and (given the need for increased focus on finance and business structure) how it's paid for:

Half day at Briarwood School funded by Bristol Arts and Music Service (as part of Wider Opportunities) and the school

Full day at St. Roses' school, working towards the end of term 'PROM' performance as well as the continuation of the NOCN music course pilot with Bradley Warwick, funded entirely by the school

Half day at Emerson's Green School, funded entirely by the school

Full day at Claremont school, funded by local Trusts.
Also evening sessions at Hareclive Youth Club funded by Youth Opportunities Fund.

Half day at the City Academy Bristol supporting Jordan Andow through his music GCSE course funded by the school's Inclusion budget.

We're also doing some work with disabled dancer / drummer Michael Mitchell of Dance Aware to enable him to integrate drumming into his dance workshops using Assistive Music Technology (paid for by a Trust).

Curriculum Development work is moving forward strongly and we're keeping our fingers crossed that we get the £80,000 we've applied to the Esmée Fairbairn foundation for to continue this work. We are also in the process of commissioning UK-wide research into the state of music education for disabled  pupils, for which we hope to get funding from the Big Lottery Research Fund. I've posted a copy of the outline proposal on Googledocs if you're interested. (The focus is stated as being SEN pupils rather than disabled pupils for reasons of academic clarity). 

Other things happening at the moment:

I've received the full video of Havmannen's Sønn, including Charlotte's music, which I'll edit and post online when I have a chance (!?!) It looks and sounds great.

Sing Up
We're currently booking in the 5 pilot sessions for the summer term and are running a training / planning day for the Sing Up area leaders with whom we'll be delivering the sessions on 7th April.

Last Friday (27th) I attended the Sing Up 'Beyond The Mainstream' gathering in Birmingham along with all the 30-or-so other organisations involved in this programme of work throughout the UK. Sing Up are so pleased with what we're doing that even before our pilot has completed they have already asked us to create more resources for the Sing Up Song Bank . Furthermore, we are potentially looking at working on a more strategic level with the new Beyond The Mainstream manager, Jenny Young, to manage and collate accessible resources from across all the other projects. This is clearly a great opportunity!

Digital Beginnings
Though not entirely a SW programme, I'm co-ordinating the whole thing so here's an update on the Youth Music funded part of this work. Music sessions are currently being booked in the SW, NW and EMids to add to the Connecting Across Difference sessions which have just completed in London. Lead Musicians from each region will be gathering in Bristol on 8th April to review the work so far and make plans for the upcoming sessions, as well as playing with some AMT of course!

Barrs Court Music Motivator Programme
I learned last Friday that, in addition to the Youth Music 'Make It Sound' money awarded to Digital Beginnings, we have received a second slice of funding from this YM programme in the form of £28,000 for work at Barr's Court School, Hereford throughout 2009/10/11. The plan is to create a complete scheme of work at KS3 / 4 within the 'Special Curriculum'. We'll be delivering the work in partnership with the school, 'Music Pool', a Hereford based Community Music Organisation, and 'Broad Oak Studios' a local recording studio.

Colston Hall Education
We are looking at going into partnership with the Colston Hall in Bristol to develop an accessible music making facility in their education department as part of the brand new foyer which is nearly complete.

Er, think that's if for now, best crack on then! Thanks so much to all the SW Musicians who have been working so hard to make all this happen!

Doug Bott

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

i totally agree and the good news is invoiced income is increasing in regions at the moment. however it is bits and  bobs here and there which makes it difficult to plan strategically and to offer our participants sustainable provision.

what we could do with is a detailed discussion within DM on the best way of identifying the key people regionally and nationally and finding the best way to pursuade them to fund our work either because of legal requirements or their own gvt/strategic agendas. 

if we move in the same way, on mass, as a national organisation we will have much more pursuasive power and a greater sustainable impact, which would be very exciting.


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Magnificent Seven

Dear Bryan and all,

I think the seven aims here are all key to Drake's future, and that increasing statutory funding from local authorities and government is the most pressing goal, not just for Drake's future financial sustainability.

Every child who is in full time education should have access to excellent music provision as a matter of course. Many LEAs and examining boards are way behind on this, despite their responsibilities under the DDA. They simply aren't reaching out to disabled young people, nor taking the initiative in training their staff or re-assessing the accessibility of their examinations. They seem to expect disabled young people to come to them. Barriers to participation and accreditation are not only concrete e.g. a lack of accessible, re-usable teaching materials, but also perceived i.e. are examining boards approachable? Is my music education treated as being as important as my English and Maths? 

Drake Music has so much experience and 'intellectual capital', being the national leader in this sector for 20 years. Our area of work is currently a priority topic in national music education and policy, and as such, we are in a key position to influence the debate and expand our work at this turning point! I'm extremely optimistic about our future, not just because of this latter point, but because Drake has such a committed and creative team of people trying to reach these goals.

It would be great to hear other Drake people's views on this debate


Monday, 2 March 2009

A vision for Drake Music

Hi everybody,

What would we like Drake Music to be in five years’ time? Here's my two-pennies-worth for the debate - and my wish-list for any genie-in-a-bottle who'll grant me seven wishes. Actually I'm convinced that with luck, hard work and a fair wind we have the ability to achieve them.

1. We will generate far more of our income from trading. Central and local government, education authorities, schools, colleges, universities , curriculum and examination bodies, and a whole range of organisations in the private and the not-for-profit should be paying us for what we can do, what we can teach them and how we help them to achieve their corporate social responsibility and diversity agendas.

2. More disabled people will be involved throughout Drake Music, as associates, musicians and artists.

3. The Board will vibrant and creative, and high-profile individuals will volunteer to be on it.

4. We will have a presence on national and international stages.

5. More of our work will be skilling other people to do what we now do, selling our expertise as teachers and facilitators of change.

6. By having brought about a national debate, we and society at large will be aware of and articulate about the particular contribution / flavours disability brings to creativity.

7. We will be – and be seen as being - a significant source of generating/broking commissions for disabled musicians.

There is more, but seven is a propitious number so let’s start by talking about these.

I'm looking forward to your responses: and thank you for all your terrific work. And it's great to be out of the woods!

Bryan Heiser (Chair)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Curriculum update & other news

Dear all,

here is the news...

Work at St Roses school, Stroud, continues to progress well: our NOCN student, Bradley, has all but completed the first unit in the course, including an original eight bar composition using Sibelius and the Grid 2. Next unit is 'Composing Music for Films'. Alex Ivanovich has begun working with me, and our students are now working towards performances at the bi-yearly school prom on June 30th (which was a real success last time for Drake students)

The forum around disabled musicians and accreditation on has, in the main, had some interesting and useful posts on it. There are some conspicuous absences, I think, in terms of representations from all the main UK awarding bodies, but this may be addressed in the near future. For me, the biggest plus is that we are discussing equal access to music on a national forum, and people are starting to take note.

Lastly, I am currently planning for the 12 week music & drama project - which Drake will feature heavily in - at Hareclive Youth Club, South Bristol. Drake already ran a very successful music project at the club in 2008, and it's hoped that this new project, featuring young people with and without disabilities, will promote inclusion in the youth club generally, not forgetting some brilliant and inspired work!


Friday, 6 February 2009

I found heaven on earth!

Here's a post from Charlotte with her perspective on the trip to Tromsø.

"We won't fit that chair in..." announced the airport assistant. I watched four burly men pull, push and drag my legs into the hold under the plane, with Jackie trying in vain to distract me. Once everyone was settled we flew off to Norway, with a very blond, very gay air-host(ess). The hospitality of the Norwegians was amazing; nothing was too much trouble, they always wanted to help.

On our first semi-dark day we went to Tromsø University where the Culture school was based and we met the three music gurus: Elin, Einar and Johann. All the lecturers who we met welcomed us, as well as the few students who we met. A large room with a stage and lighting appeared in front of us; this was apparently where I was going to do my presentation! Doug promptly fell into technical talk.

Inhaling fresh air was bizarre, piercingly cold, heavy but revitalising, until your nose felt like it was going to freeze off! Our regular chauffeur drove us up and down solid ice roads past pure-white mountains and fairy tale houses covered in un-even snow.

Having only ever done one presentation before I knew the idea of talking to a group of strangers was daunting to say the least! As we sat there, more and more students kept slouching in... Something one of my favourite teachers told me popped into my mind, "never admit to ignorance, pretend you know everything." I changed this to "never admit to fear!" The students were very responsive compared to the academics, this surprised me!

I had  composed three pieces of music prior to entering Norway; that was my pass into the country. The music was for the Tromsø Festival to welcome the sun back, after six months of dusk and dark. The opening concert was a special occasion. The dancers were performing on snow sculptures, their obvious enjoyment radiated towards the audience. When my compositions came on, I didn't know what to expect or feel, my feelings were confused and they still are! I enjoyed one specific part; when the boy was born. This piece of music was completely opposite to all the rest.

As well as working we also had some unreal experiences. Flying around the fjords above snow covered mountains and floating above the water was surreal. Words will never describe it. Un-disturbed snow hiding glaciers, the sun attempting to rise and clear-sky-perfection.

On our last day Jackie and I went on a husky sledge ride. The dogs took us for an hour around bleak white fields, up and down mountains giving us a clear view of Tromsø Island and Whale Island. The dogs bounded through the snow with ease, I bounded around the sledge with ease as well!

Our week was packed from morning till night; meeting beautiful people, working with students, exploring the local area and watching citizens perform their chosen art form. The experiences that I had from this freezing trip were exceptional... I will never forget them.

Charlotte White

If you haven't done so already, view Doug's post below for links to pictures and music

Friday, 30 January 2009

London update

Hi Everyone

Greetings from London.  The CAD project is ticking along nicely and we're all excited to be leading up to the performance in March.  We've also been invited to interview for some funding by Sound Connections: we submitted two bids - one for their Reaching Out programme (for the second phase of the CAD project) and one for a Youth Mentor programme.  I'll let you know how we get on.

Alongside this work, we've also been bought in by the Orpheus Centre (Richard Stilgoe's residential creative centre for disabled young adults).  Gary Day, who is one of our London associates, who used to work with Drake Music in Ireland, is running the project.  It is a fun project over this term and the focus is on the process rather than any particular outcomes so Gary has carte blanche to get creative!  The first sessions yesterday and today have gone really well so far.


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I can’t believe they ride bikes here!

There are many remarkable things about Tromsø, a Norwegian city whose people - whether disabled or not - achieve an enviable standard of living on a small island 350 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, 240 kilometres from any other town and 1000 kilometres from another city of similar size. Tromsø also boasts the northern-most University in the world and in the summer of 2008 the University Music Department, together with the Tromsø Culture School invited Charlotte White to write music for, and attend this year's 'Nordlysfestivalen' (Northern Lights Music Festival). The Northern Lights themselves proved elusive but Charlotte, Jackie (Charlotte's PA) and I enjoyed an unforgettable week in Tromsø from 20th to 27th January.

We awoke, late on Wednesday morning to a dusky half-light. The sun, which had deserted Tromsø in late November, was for the first time peeping over the mountains at the end of the fjord. It didn't peep for long though, and we were plunged back into darkness by 2.30pm. During the afternoon we visited our hosts, Elin, Einar and Johann at the SKUG centre - an Assistive Music Technology powerhouse within the Culture School, whose links to Drake Music and Dr. Tim Anderson go back a number of years. We also finally met Øyvin Kristoffer and Vibeke, the two disabled musicians with whom Charlotte had remotely collaborated to compose the music for the Festival's opening performance via a combination of Skype, VNC and Dropbox file sharing. We relied on taxis to get us around town for most of this first day but thereafter, on Charlotte's insistence, we braved the sub-zero temperatures and began making our own way around the streets, despite much of the tarmac being buried centimetres beneath sheet ice or heavily compacted snow.

There is a prevailing attitude in Tromsø that anything is possible, so long as you believe strongly enough that it should happen and find common-sense solutions. By the early 1990's for example, increased traffic congestion began to seriously threaten the small city streets and wooden houses. But instead of widening the roads it was decided to build a network of underground tunnels and car parks, paid for through a small increase in the cost of fuel that has now recouped. The achievements of disabled musicians at the SKUG centre, and indeed the general level of aspiration by and for disabled people in Tromsø is emblematic of this positive outlook. And, as with the best Assistive Music Technology, the cyclists who whizz past on the icy roads also employ a simple, practical solution to defy initial expectations. Their tyres, just like those of all other vehicles in the winter, are fitted with metal spikes to ensure a firm grip.

On Thursday and  Friday Charlotte and I presented, and Charlotte performed to staff and music students at Kongsbakken College, and the University Music Department. Charlotte greatly impressed everyone with her performance of the Bach Cello prelude and her demonstrations of Sibelius and Reason using her 'SmartNav' hands-free mouse and a range of assistive software. For me, it was brilliant to be able to present alongside her and I'm sure that the audiences went away with a much more profound appreciation of her achievements, and of the potential of disabled musicians in general, than I am able to engender when presenting on my own.

On Friday evening we got to see and hear the culmination of Charlotte, Øyvin Kristoffer and Vibeke's hard work. The opening performance of the Nordlysfestivalen was a stunning, open-air event in Tromsø's main square, attended by the Crown Prince of Norway and an audience of about 500 people. A troupe of dancers depicted the Norwegian fairy story of "Havmannens Sønn" in and around a set of beautifully lit snow sculptures, with Charlotte, Øyvin and Vibeke's pre-recorded music commanding everyone's attention from the massive PA towers. Charlotte's pieces rose brilliantly to the occasion and the dancers clearly loved dancing to them; the young boy in the story (the sønn) skipping around gleefully to her skittering, breathless flutes. I hope to be able to post some video of the event online soon as it was filmed for broadcast by the Norwegian equivalent of the BBC. Afterwards, at the opening concert in Tromsø's main concert hall (also attended by the Crown Prince) Charlotte and her collaborators were presented with flowers in recognition of their fantastic contribution to the festival. Not surprisingly, we all went out for a well-deserved celebratory meal and a few drinks afterwards.

The weekend was filled with a succession of amazing arctic experiences: a sight-seeing drive into the mountains, visits to both Johann and Elin's homes where we enjoyed wonderful hospitality, a spot of sledging, a baroque flute concert, a flight over Tromsø and the surrounding mountains in a small four-seater plane, a seal show at the 'Polarium' and finally a return to the city concert hall to hear music for Euphonium and web-cam.

We spent Monday afternoon back at the SKUG centre, exchanging Assistive Music Technology tips and tricks and making music with Øyvin, Vibeke and a number of other young, disabled musicians. Before the return flight on Tuesday there was just time for Charlotte and Jackie to fit in a dog-sled ride through the spectacular mountain scenery while Elin, Einar and I drank tea by an open fire in a traditional Sami tent and plotted the next phase of our collaboration. We're all keen to extend the potential of the remote collaborative music making which produced such fantastic results at the Nordlysfestivalen. It could unlock previously unimagined access to music for disabled musicians scattered throughout remote arctic communities in Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia, as well as being extremely useful for musicians working with Drake Music in the UK. If you don't believe us, you probably wouldn't believe the speed of the cyclists in Tromsø either.
Doug Bott

Hear / download Charlotte's compositions for "Havmannen's Sønn", recorded by Elin Skogdal with musicians from Tromsø University and the Tromsø Symphony Orchestra:

Watch Charlotte's performance of the Bach Cello Prelude on YouTube

Friday, 23 January 2009

Tentative steps..

....Here goes.....
Thanks to Doug's encouragement in December to all Trustees to 'make the Drake blog your homepage' and Anna's meticulous instructions I'm HOPING everyone will see my first venture into blogging!

For those of you who don't know me I am a Trustee of Drake Music and had a longstanding relationship with the organisation as a tutor and trainer in London, the Midlands and the north of the country in the 90s prior to joining the Board.
I'm now a freelance consultant, trainer and project manager working across the W Midlands out of Birmingham and advocate our work at every opportunity (which are many!).

I can't wait to hear how Charlotte's trip to Norway has gone, or the outcomes of lots of the activity that's happening all over the country.
Anna tells me I have to write my name at the bottom so I'll say good bye for now.
Clare Smith

Friday, 16 January 2009

SW update for Jan 2009

Here's a quick update from Doug on work in the South West.  We've had a whirlwind start to the year:

Alex and Jonathan have turned  the brand new sensory room at Claremont Secondary school into a multimedia Reggae Spaceship for this term's group music sessions!

St. Rose's
St. Rose's school have confirmed that they can fully fund us for the rest of this academic year, which means that in addition to delivering the NOCN course pilot with Bradley Warwick, Alex can now join Jonathan each Tuesday to deliver a full program of group and individual music sessions, working towards the St. Rose's school PROM concert in July.

NOCN Music Course Pilot
The NOCN course is going well. Bradley and Jonathan have nearly finished the first unit (notation) and we have adapted the Grid 2 set up originally designed for Charlotte so that Bradley can compose in Sibelius using 2 head switches. We are working hard on a funding bid to Esmée Fairbairn to continue the Curriculum Development Initiative, as part of which Jonathan has been hitting the phones to the QCA and all major exam boards to get an update on the current state of access to accreditation for disabled pupils. As per the last time we did this, the results are still very patchy. For example, WJEC seem pretty switched on while Edexcel seem extremely unhelpful, even obstructive. We are also talking to NAME about the possibility of presenting on Access to Accreditation for disabled pupils at this year's conference in September. Jonathan will be delivering a lecture / presentation to PGCE music students at Bristol Uni on Thurs 22nd Jan as the first phase of our partnership with Bristol Uni to increase awareness of access issues among PGCE music students. This is definitely something we could look to extend around the country (Manchester, London, E-Mids and more.)

Sing Up / Drake Music partnership
We have almost completed the Clicker 5 and VOCA (Voice Output Communication Aid) resources for the Sing Up pilot project. Our workshop space at Claremont has resembled a programming production line at points over the last couple of weeks with Alex working alongside Hannah, Katie and Nikki of PCAS (Paediatric Communication Aids Service) to render 'Alice The Camel', 'Senwa Dedende' and 'Old MacDonald' (among others) in fully accessible, digital form. We met with a host of people from Sing Up and Faber Music today to test out the resources and to plan delivery of the pilot project. They're delighted with the resources - the pilot is scheduled to run in 4 schools (tbc) throughout the South West from May and the resources will be available to download from the Sing Up Song Bank from September. Alex and I will also be presenting on our work with Sing Up as well as running a series of workshops at at a Singing Conference to be held at the Colston Hall, Bristol on 4th February.

The new Wooden Spoon building (which we share with PCAS at Claremont school) was opened today by The Princess Royal. I couldn't attend as the Sing Up/Faber meeting couldn't be re-scheduled, so Jonathan had a shave, shook the moth-balls of his suit and schmoozed with HRH.

BAMS funding?
We are in the process of organising a series of music sessions in Bristol SEN schools funded by Bristol Arts & Music Service under the Wider Opportunities scheme. If it comes off this will be the first time that the LEA has directly funded our work in Bristol. Fingers crossed...

Doug & Charlotte are off to Tromsø in Norway from 20th to 27th Jan to attend the Northern Lights Music Festival as guests of the SKUG centre and Tromsø University. Charlotte has written 3 pieces for the opening performance of the Festival which have been pre-recorded (by musicians at Tromsø University) to accompany a dance piece based on the Norwegian Fairy tale of Havmannens sønn. You can listen to the recordings here, here, and here! As well as attending various concerts we'll be giving presentations to the Music Dept at the University and also at Tromsø music college. I'll try and post some photos of the trip here soon.

I think that's about it - back to the funding apps.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Find you Talent! Festival

Hi everyone,

Drake Music will be present at the Find your Talent! Festival at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Tower Hamlets on the 16th and 17th January 2009, 10:30-17:00. The festival is aimed at young people in the borough to discover opportunities in the creative sector which is represented by local arts and cultural organisations.
Anna and I will represent Drake Music with stand on both days with info material and case studies about what we do and who we are. Also, I am very excited to announce that Anya and Victoria, two of our associate musicians and trainees in our project Connecting Across Difference will be performing there. Victoria is going to sing classical, jazz and modern songs and Anya will showcase her electronic portfolio using Soundbeam and Kaoss Pad.

How exciting! If you want to check out the website of Find you Talent! festival:

Have a nice weekend everyone,
Christine :-)

Monday, 5 January 2009

Happy New Year from the East Mid's!

Just wanted to say hello and wish everyone a 'fundraising success' for 2009! Lot's to do.. Lot's to see.. Lot's to wish for.. and Lot's to gain!