1327 Fund: Open Up Music, Bristol

Open Up Music's mission is to make orchestras accessible to young disabled people

Open Orchestras, is Open Music's innovative outreach programme, which was established in 2013. At that time, there were orchestras in roughly half of Britain’s mainstream schools. In the special schools, which needed them even more, there were none. In 2019/20 there are 39 Open Orchestras in six regions of the UK, providing tailored musical education to over 400 of the UK’s most musically marginalised young people. Last year’s figures show a diverse group of young people beyond disability, with higher percentages of BAME and gender representation than national averages. There are no stipulations about what disabilities suit the programme, all young disabled people are welcome to join.

Barry Farrimond, the co-Founder of Open Orchestras, is a specialist in sound, interactivity and accessibility and he has made improbable and original music for many years. It was a conversation with a friend who taught music to disabled young people that changed things. It led Barry to invent and refine over eight years a musical instrument called the Clarion. As an award-winning accessible instrument, it works on ipad and PC and can be played with any part of the body – fingers, toes, or eye movement. The music sessions help some young people feel emotions and for others it’s the fellowship. 

"Jordan is always happy when she is in the orchestra. She definitely enjoys orchestra, even if she is not feeling good when she arrives, she pretty much always leaves with a smile! I feel Jordan has really come out of her shell in the orchestra.” – Orchestra Leader