Encountering disability in music: Exploring perceptions on inclusive music education in higher music education

This research study evaluated an Artist-in-Residence-project (AIR-project) at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, focusing on inclusive music education. For this project, the Conservatory invited the organization Drake Music Scotland to work with its students. The project’s aim was to provide students with practical skills regarding music technology, to discuss the social model of disability, and to play in an inclusive music ensemble with a musician with a severe physical disability. The perceived learning experiences of students, the experienced value of the project, and recommendations for its improvement were explored through online questionnaires with the students and online semistructured interviews with the AIR-project leader, the musician with a disability, and the two workshop leaders of Drake Music Scotland. Findings suggest that alongside learning practical skills regarding music technology, students changed or broadened their perceptions about people with disabilities and inclusive music-making in positive ways. Furthermore, participants valued that the project created a space in which “taking enough time” and “belonging” could be experienced; these values are important in inclusive music environments as they can empower musicians with disabilities. The main recommendation for similar projects was that students wanted to gain hands-on experience in inclusive music education.

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Author: Melissa Bremmer

Editor: Cornelieke van Voskuijlen