In November 2018, pupils from two Somerset special schools spent three days with professional musicians from Live Music Now, creating music together. Members of The Spindle Ensemble, a Bristol-based group of musicians who have been receiving rave reviews for their first album, “Bea”, worked with pupils from Fairmead and Avalon schools as part of Live Music Now’s SEND Inspire programme, which trains musicians to use their skills to perform for and with young people with special educational needs and disabilities.



According to Gemma Mounty, music coordinator at Avalon school, “The pupils gained a lot of enjoyment from the music sessions … gaining confidence over the sessions with communicating and joining in with the musicians and instruments. One pupil who was initially wary became entranced by the marimba and enjoyed watching it being played close up. [There were] wonderful responses from students who are non-verbal, which included physically moving themselves to be closer to the instruments, communicating they wanted more, sharing an activity with peers and demonstrating excellent concentration.”


At Fairmead School, Head Teacher Tracy Felstead observed that the impact of the project lasted beyond the three days: “All those who took part are now more confident to take part in singing at school [and] more able to listen to each other. It’s made the students more willing to take part in the choir.”


This project was funded by Youth Music, with support from Sound Foundation Somerset. Bringing an investment in music activities worth over £25,000, Live Music Now’s musicians will deliver a total of seven projects, ranging from short but intensive creative workshops to a year-long musician-in-residence project at one school. The programme will also involve training for school staff and peripatetic music teachers in the county, with the aim of supporting schools to continue to develop their music provision both during the project and beyond.