The Connect: Resound programme is designed to open up access to music tuition and live music experiences by using digital technology. Our free, live-streamed music performances are specially designed for children and young people. They were set up to respond to the fact that it is often be difficult for schools to provide students with access to live music due to logistics, costs and a lack of local arts opportunities, particularly in rural areas.
Our live broadcasts bring unique, inspiring and high-profile live music experiences direct to the classroom. But, how can we ensure they are as inclusive as possible? Here’s some suggestions for ways you can offer a ‘relaxed’ viewing of our live-streams.
The aim of a relaxed viewing is to remove potential barriers to access for audience members, including those with an autism spectrum condition, a learning disability, deafness or a hearing impairment as well as anyone else who would benefit from a more relaxed environment.
There’s many ways that you can create an informal and inclusive atmosphere for viewing a live broadcast. Here’s some initial ideas and points to consider:
- Make sure everyone understands in advance what they will be watching, how long it will last and that it will be an informal environment, so that they know what to expect.
- On the day, provide a warm welcome and explain that everyone is invited to relax and respond naturally to the music, in whichever ways they like. And that they can come and go as they please.
- Scatter beanbags and mats for those who need, or prefer, to sit or lie on the floor.
- Consider cabaret style seating, so that groups can sit together.
- Make sure that there is space for people to stand up, move around, change seats or dance.
- Ensure everyone feels comfortable – if they need to make noises, laugh, wriggle or fidget then just go with it.
- Offer a chill-out space, perhaps with cosy cushions and cuddly toys, where children can go if they need a break from the music and/or the rest of the audience.
- Think about lighting – it may be more atmospheric to watch in the dark but for a relaxed viewing it is often preferable to keep the lights on or to just dim them a little.
- Similarly, when considering sensory sensitivity, think about volume and ensuring it isn’t too loud.
- Hand out beach balls or pieces of paper for audience members to hold, so they can experience the music through touch and vibration.
- Consider whether make available small sensory objects, such as small squeezy balls, fidget spinners and glow sticks.
- Have helpers will be on hand for those who need them
Thanks to our partners DaDaFest and Accessible Arts & Media for their support in writing this article. Do let us know if you decide to offer a ‘relaxed’ viewing of our live broadcasts and how your students find the experience!
The youth charity NYMAZ which runs Connect: Resound is a founding member of the Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England, a movement for change throughout music education. It is a growing network of organisations working together to promote equity in music education, and to support others to do the same, through advocacy, CPD, resources, and strategic alliances. There are 13 founder organisations, led and supported by Youth Music thanks to funding from the National Lottery via Arts Council England. Find out more here: https://network.youthmusic.org.uk/alliance-for-a-musically-inclusive-england-AMIE