Last night I was luck enough to be at the ‘Music Teacher Awards for Excellence’ dinner in London. I was there because SoundLab, a project that explores ways of using cutting-edge technology to encourage people with learning disabilities to create sound and music experiences, was nominated for the ‘Best SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Resource category. For those who don’t know, I’ve been working on this project for around 18 months now, and it’s a topic that’s very important to me.
I’ve been to awards events before, and I’ve always gone along thinking that it was highly unlikely that I was going to win anything, and this event was no different. We were up against some very stiff competition from the likes of Moog’s Theremini, AlphaSphere, Drake Music Scotland, and Skoog.
But guess what? WE WON!
No you might be thinking that whilst this is great, and very nice for me and the project etc, but what has this got to do with mobile music? Well that’s a good question, but also a simple one to answer.
Since the project started we’ve been using apps in lots of different ways. We’ve shown them in live events we’ve run at the Royal Festival Hall and the Liberty Festival. We’ve used them in workshops to see which apps worked well for people and which didn’t, and we’ve given feedback to developers on the basis of our research. Mobile is a very important part of accessible music making, and it is getting better all the time.
SoundLab has been recommending apps to people and encouraging them to make music for a couple of years now, and we’re not about to stop. In fact, just yesterday, one of our bands ‘Electric Fire’ we showing Head Teachers in Lewisham how to make music with their equipment.
Spreading the word is important.
Electric Fire have been performing and sharing their instruments with Head Teachers from Lewisham schools today! pic.twitter.com/vu8MaU0uy8
— Heart n Soul (@HeartnSoulArt) February 25, 2016
But I can’t put it much better than my friend Lilly:
Heart n Soul and SoundLab will keep finding new ways to engage people with music making in ways that make sense for them, and I’m very happy to be a part of that.
— Heart n Soul (@HeartnSoulArt) February 26, 2016
Accessibility isn’t just a win for organisations like Heart n Soul, it’s a win for everyone. When we make technologies better for people with learning disabilities, we make them more accessible to everyone who wants to make music, and that has to be a good thing.
What we aim to do through SoundLab is probably best summed by Heart n Soul’s Artist Director Mark Williams:
“We are thrilled to have the recognition of the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence Best SEND resource award for how our work at SoundLab is opening up and sharing the creative possibilities of new and emerging music technologies to become more connected and accessible for people with learning disabilities and as a result of that, for everyone.”
If you’d like to read our press release you can find it below, please do share it, it’s important.