Specific learning needs, disability and D/deafness in music education: An exploration of inclusive and accessible approaches

Pete Dale, Bella Powell*, Rosemary Lynch, Kristl Kirk, Jennifer Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the current educational climate, barriers to learning or making music still exist for many students (Figueiredo et al., 2015; Henley & Barton, 2022; Laes & Westerlund, 2018). These barriers may take many forms across physical, social and pedagogical issues, including teaching methods and approaches, instruments, and awareness, with some disabled students potentially excluded from musical activities. Removing these barriers might enable a greater number of students to engage in quality musical learning experiences.

This chapter aims to break down misconceptions and help music educators to support the realisation of the musical potential of students who may traditionally have been excluded from music-making, while exploring strategies to ensure the accessibility of music education for all students, and considering what strengths individual learners can bring to lessons. These inclusive strategies are valuable both for students who may historically have found music education difficult to access, and for broader student communities.

While it is not possible to discuss all aspects of accessibility within the scope of this chapter, through the issues and tactics explored here and using several specific areas of accessibility encountered by the chapter authors in their own practice, we suggest how these might inform broader practice with regard to other areas of accessibility and consider how these might transfer to ensuring accessibility for all students. We primarily situate the discussion in relation to one-to-one instrumental tuition, but we also signpost how the issues and strategies explored might translate to group teaching and institutional education, such as school contexts. Part of our methodology includes reflection on our own varied practices as a team of music teachers and practitioners with experience of teaching diverse student groups and as advocates for inclusivity and accessibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook for Instrumental and Vocal Teaching
EditorsLiz Haddon
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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