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Making Music with Students with PMLD

Sutton Music Service’s mission is to provide access to music in all its forms for every young person in the borough.  

 With support and training from Open Orchestras, SMS has been working with Sherwood Park School (an all-age foundation special school) to create an orchestra accessible to young disabled people.  

 The sessions take place each Wednesday morning and allow the students, many with PMLD (profound and multiple learning disabilities), to make music. An Open Orchestra does not look like how you might imagine a traditional orchestra. Instead, the idea is to take well-known pieces of music and deconstruct them into small building blocks that can be played on traditional instruments or a specially developed adapted instrument app called the Clarion. 








To share what they had learnt since this project began, Claire Cossins (Senior Instrumental Curriculum Leader for SMS) and Frankie Smith (Senior Teaching Assistant for Sherwood Park) led a peer-to-peer training session on Understanding and Including Students with PMLD on Wednesday 19th May 2021. This session was presented to music practitioners across the country. 

 To make these sessions accessible for students with PMLD, songs are used to show the session’s structure. For example, a hello song lets the students know they are about to start making music, and a music time is finished song lets the students know they are going to go back to class.  

 This work with Open Orchestra allows traditional music-making in ensembles to be reimagined and adapted. The Music Education Hub partnership with Open Orchestras means Sutton Music Service can continue to work towards its vision of helping every young person in the London Borough of Sutton to make, be inspired by and celebrate the music they love. 

 “Sutton Music Service is committed to supporting all children and young people across the borough to experience the joy of making music. Forming strategic partnerships with an organisation such as Open Orchestras enables the Music Service to develop specialist skills and expand our offer.” Gareth Gay, Head of Music Service.