Music Unlimited at the Royal Blind School

Posted: 19/11/2014 | Education


An inspiring afternoon of conversation and performance took place at the Royal Blind School this month. The "Music Unlimited" event was the finale of a student-led enquiry into music-making opportunities, with pupils from Royal Blind School and James Gillespie's High School coming together creatively.

Royal Blind School and James Gillespie's High School pupils playing music togetherOver several months, 14 pupils from the Royal Blind School and 9 from James Gillespie's worked with support from social enterprise Space Unlimited to explore the question:-

How can young people with additional support needs access inspiring music-making opportunities outwith school time?

Their ideas and insights were expressed at the event through art, through music and in words, to an audience of pupils, teachers, family and friends.

At the start of the event, music teacher Karl MacRae discussed their approach to music-making and how technology has made a massive difference to the accessibility of instruments for children with additional support needs. He emphasised this project was all about the process, rather than producing polished performances, yet all the pieces were incredibly moving to listen to - and clearly a lot of fun for everyone involved.

The variety of instruments used would make an orchestra proud - from keyboards to clackers, guitars to glockenspiels. Everyone had clearly worked really hard to bring such diverse sounds together so well.

The first two musical contributions came from Class 5 and 6, who explored the contrasts between smooth and rough sounds, creating a couple of extremely expressive, emotionally powerful pieces.

Students discuss their experiences on Music Unlimited

This was followed by a pupil-led chat about some of the issues they faced when trying to access music-making outwith the school environment - such as transport or geography, or a feeling of social stigma.

Mapping community music-making opportunities available to students from both schools, it was found that young people had many common experiences, but not shared ones. Pupils then discussed their idea for an informal community group that anyone would be welcome to join - regardless of prior musical skills or additional support needs. 

After some lively discussions about how to take their experiences forward, pupils performed pieces in their own groups before joining together as a band for the big finish.

All agreed it had been great to work together on this unique project - and there was a lot of talent on show from everyone. The Christmas number one spot is there for the taking...

"Music really touches each one of us," Head Teacher Elaine Brackenridge said as the afternoon drew to a close - and not a single person in the room could have been left unmoved by this fantastic event.


music making at Space Unlimited