Drake Music publish a new paper looking at inclusive practice in music education


Drake Music, a national charity which breaks down disabling barriers to music, are calling for an end to the justification for practice that excludes, in a new paper written by disabled musician, actor and activist John Kelly. “What is inclusion? Making music is the key!” tackles inclusion in music education and the arts, in an accessible and practical way.

photo of musician and writer

John Kelly. Credit: Drake Music

John Kelly, commented:

“Inclusion is a hot topic in music education and the arts, but do we really understand what we mean by it? Are we all on the same page when it comes to what inclusion actually is? And is our understanding informed by lived experience? With this paper we don’t want to defend or define inclusion. We want to call for radical and bold action to end the justification of excluding practice.”

The paper has been released as a free download and is available in PDF, EasyRead and audio formats. It discusses 4 principles which can be introduced into delivery of music and arts programmes to ensure they are inclusive: Belonging, Understanding, Participating and Achieving.

Belonging links to ideas of being welcome and being able to be yourself. Understanding is about being taken seriously and having input into how things are, rather than assumptions being made. Participating is defined as being about active choices, pace and space as well as having fun. Finally, Achieving is about personal growth, confidence and self-esteem.

The paper comes on the back of a campaign by Drake Music for the music education sector to diversify its workforce and for Disabled people to be better represented.

What is inclusion? Making Music is the Key is the outcome of development work within Drake Music involving Disabled and non-disabled people. It is informed by the Disability Equality movement and its articulation of the principles that underpin and drive inclusion, including the Social Model of Disability.

Carien Meijer, Chief Executive of Drake Music commented:

“What is really important about this paper is that it is a living document, a snapshot of our current thinking, understanding, experience and practice of inclusion within Drake Music.

“What is also important to understand is that this document is not finished. It can’t be, because our inclusion journey is not finished. Over the past decade we have experimented, listened, learned and developed our approach, organisation and practice significantly. And we will continue to do so, and to find new ideas and ways to be inclusive.”

It is hoped that this paper will help organisations across the music education sector to begin or further their own inclusion journey and that they will adapt, change and challenge it as they do so.

To download the paper go to the Drake Music website.