Skip to navigation Skip to main content

Taking OffTaking Off

A networked approach to promoting meaningful musical pathways for young Londoners facing challenging circumstances.

Taking Off Conference - Provocations panel

Key themes across the day:

Musical progression routes for young Londoner’s facing challenging circumstances.

Where are we at with musical inclusion in London in 2015; what do we mean by inclusion; is how we define inclusion changing?

Provocations summary:

Adem Holness – emerging artist (Pocketclub) and Wired4Music researcher & member

In an age where independent releases run the risk of going up against secret Beyonce albums, is the music education sector truly preparing young and emerging musicians for the realities of progressing into the commercial music industry?

I dream of a world where we are surrounded by authentic representation of diverse peoples and their stories across mainstream society. I firmly believe this can be achieved through commercial music.

So, how do we prepare our young people for the harsh realities of an elitist system and equip them with the tools to progress through it?

Amy Haynes – Director of Music, Lister Community School

What happens when the barrier to musical progression you can’t overcome is parental apathy and lack of support?

Apathy and lack of parental support presents a huge barrier to progression, particularly with extra-curricular opportunities.

We find ways to overcome other barriers to music access and then fall at the last hurdle because we don’t have buy-in from families.

How can we advocate for the importance of music amongst the wider school community and excite parents about the benefits?

Gary Spruce – Senior Lecturer in Education, The Open University

What are inclusive and socially just approaches to music education and how might we promote them in our music teaching and leading?

Many music educators are deeply committed to the idea and ideals of social justice. ‘Inclusion’, ‘participation’ and ‘diversity’ are terms that appear regularly in the discourses of music education and are typically understood as means by which socially just approaches to music education might be achieved. However there is at present a lack of conceptual clarity about what we mean when we speak of social justice and of terms such as inclusion. One consequence of this lack of conceptual clarity is that the terms are open to being appropriated in support of aims which can result in the entrenchment of social injustice. For example, some music education organisations reach to social justice arguments as part of a transformative rhetoric which speaks of the power of music education (and particularly their approach to music education!) to ‘change’ or ‘transform’ lives; seemingly untroubled by thoughts as to by what authority they presume to decide that certain lives need transforming and why they should be the agents of such transformations. A similar rhetoric of social justice and inclusion has been adopted more recently by government ministers to justify the imposition of an ‘academic’ curriculum at post-14 which excludes music and the arts.

In this provocation and discussion, I shall argue that music educators should move beyond what Gil (2006) describes as ‘…an emotional attachment to vague ideas’ about social justice to ‘a more intellectual position’ which might help us to understand what we mean by inclusion and social justice in music education and how approaches to music education underpinned by these concepts can support the music making and musical learning of young people in London.


Gil, D. (2006) “Reflections on Health and Social Justice.” Contemporary Justice Review 9 (1): 39–46.

Jonathan Westrup – SEND Music Education Manager, Drake Music

“Should disabled musicians bother with accreditation and assessment?”

Provoked by…

“Isn’t music for disabled people ‘therapy’?”

Even if you’d like to be assessed or accredited, will you face challenges when you try? For example, what are the challenges disabled musicians might face if they want to use music technology for grade exams?

How do you assess the musical progress of disabled young people with a range of SEN and/or disabilities? What is available by way of evidence based frameworks?

“Even if disabled musicians decide not to learn music formally, it’s important to have the option to do so”

Share This

Definition of Indices of Multiple Deprivation

The Indices of Deprivation 2015 provide a set of relative measures of deprivation for small areas (Lower-layer Super Output Areas) across England, based on seven different domains of deprivation:

For more information see: - 2015 Statistical Release (PDF 1.5MB)