Inclusive Music Projects, AAM

Accessible Arts & Media (AAM) is a York based charity that works to connect local communities, disabled people and young people. It runs a range of creative workshops and projects across music and the arts.

Among its activities are IMPs - Inclusive Music Projects for disabled and non-disabled young people. We asked Project & Technical Officer Aled Jones to explain more about the group.

Rhythm and tempo games at IMP

IMPs is a fully accessible and inclusive project that provides a unique opportunity for young people to work together as equals, learn new skills and celebrate abilities. Ages range from 8 to young adults, with music-making tailored to suit age, musical experience and ability. The projects offer a wide range of activities, one of which is accessible music making using both technology and traditional instruments.

“Most disabled members come with support, this really helps with more difficult tasks like learning a rhythm or a melody on an instrument. Other members can be paired together. It's all about finding a balance where two members can work inclusively together, forming a partnership where both can benefit from each other.

"We have a range of abilities using different elements of the Ensemble kit. More able people can help setup switches for less abled people. It's helping many to access instruments and sounds that may not have been accessible before."

The IMPs groups tend to make use of simple on/off switches via the Ensemble Connect wireless interface. This allows all members of the group to access music making activities regardless of the disability.

“I love being able to program chords on a simple step sequence, and so does Richard who's a disabled apprentice within the group. Being able to do stuff like trigger complex chord patterns opens up a lot of possibilities for our disabled members.”

The group also make use of sampling to record sounds and musical instruments. These are then edited and triggered from switches using the Audio Clip block in Ensemble.

"We've recently created some really nice pieces using a lot of the chord and melody blocks alongside a wide range of acoustic and electronic musical instruments. The switches create musical possibilities that weren't available before.”

IMPs generally start each term with a theme, for example 'World'. They then explore what the group already knows about the theme and expand this into a performance or installation.

Last summer (2014), as part of the Tour de France celebrations in York the IMPs group created a sound installation using the Ensemble kit. The group sampled sounds from an ordinary bicycle, created rhythms and then used the switches to control these rhythms.

Members of the public were encouraged to play their own pieces using the installations.

So what's next for the IMPs accessible music sessions? Aled already has plans to expand the use of the Ensemble kit to help target even more senses:

"Something I've been meaning to get round to is using an Ensemble switch for use with our vibro bag. By pressing a switch you cause the bag to vibrate. I'm hoping this will help our participants with hearing or sight disabilities to understand the cause and effect nature of using the switches."

Aled Jones

Aled is the Project & Technical Assistant, helping groups set up technology and helping to run sessions.

Key pieces of equipment


An interface for existing assistive switches.


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