In a bid to break down barriers for young disabled musicians accessing the arts, Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) has partnered with the National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO) on a pioneering new initiative. Working alongside B:Music and Services For Education, MAC has become one of the four regional NOYO Centres running rehearsals with the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra, supporting 11-25 year old talented disabled and non-disabled musicians to realise their full musical potential.
The first young disabled musicians in the region have already begun to join the Birmingham NOYO Centre, making the most of this new progression route.Collaborating with cutting-edge composers, NOYO creates exciting new music for a diverse range of musicians and instruments – both acoustic and electronic – such as the Clarion, which can be played with any part of the body including the eyes.
Rehearsals for the inclusive ensemble are now taking place once a month, gearing up to Birmingham’s first NOYO concert at Symphony Hall in June 2022.
The NOYO partnership is part of MAC’s wider ‘MAC Makes Music’ campaign, which is overseen by Produce, Holly Radford. Holly believes that the opportunity that this presents young people in the region is huge, commenting:
“I am incredibly proud that the Birmingham NOYO Centre is now up and running, providing an exciting progression route for ambitious disabled and non-disabled young musicians in the region. Through the National Open Youth Orchestra, we can champion innovation, support workforce development and advocate for equity in music education and the wider music industry.
“NOYO is an opportunity for young people to make music together in new, more inclusive ways; the lessons we learn from the young people should positively shape the future of the sector. I truly feel like this is a transformative project and I couldn’t be prouder that MAC is pioneering this in the Midlands.”
The award-winning ‘MAC Makes Music’ programme has already gained plaudits for providing opportunities for children and young people with limited access to music provision. Led by a team of highly experienced musicians, the programme has been awarded Outstanding Musical Initiative in the Music and Drama Education Awards, as well as Excellence in Primary/Early Years Music at the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence.
‘MAC Makes Music’ works closely with families, pupil referral units, charities, schools and children’s services across Birmingham to discover emerging artists, and has so far delivered more than 3,000 group and individual sessions, including online opportunities during the pandemic.
Focussing on three key areas – strategic partnerships, workforce development and innovative delivery – the innovative programme aims to offer high quality music making experiences and encourage the exploration of ideas using a range of practical inclusive approaches. Genres covered include brass, calypso, Egyptian Kora music, Latin, jazz, hip hop, reggae and even Mongolian throat singing. Youngsters are also encouraged to write and perform their own songs to help boost self-esteem and confidence.