Last week HJ forwarded to me this Blog, published on The Youth Music Network site in June. She was keen to know if it was anything to do with me (I published a book called Music and The Social Model in May 2012): it wasn't and I was really excited to see it.
The Social Model view is that Disability is created by the way society treats difference; we're all responsible for that. The more people that enter the conversation and take action to address the inequality faced by people who are 'different' the bigger the change we'll make in the world and that has to be good news. So.... I thought I should respond to the Blog's invitation to share some personal experiences of Music and The Social Model and, since the Youth Music Blog had been published several weeks ago, I thought I'd start by seeing who else had joined the conversation; I Googled Music and The Social Model.
I was a bit disappointed to see that most of what I got back referred to my book: it seems the conversation hasn't gone viral yet. What will it take to make Equality in Music this year's hot topic???
I noticed a recent review that I hadn't seen and decided I'd read it: I'd like to thank the author for clarifying for me exactly the points I'd like to make in this Blog.
I DID NOT 'acquire musical training in order to introduce musical therapy into my work with people with learning disabilities'. Music is an essential part of what it is to be human. Music is a huge part of my life. Many people, by virtue of the labels ascribed to them by others, have little or no access to music. To deny access to music is to disable.
I am NOT a Music Therapist; I do NOT offer Music Therapy.
Music of course has therapeutic value for us all but the people with 'learning disability' or 'autism' labels who are part of the life of The Turning Tides Project do not have a label that says they are ill or broken, and they don't need fixing. The 'disability' they experience is down to a society where people imagine that they do. Browse the website and you will find many examples of their creativity, originality, humour and talent.
Just begin from an assumption of ability. It's not rocket science and it's not the realms of an elite professional niche. Music belongs to everyone and should be accessible to everyone. Everything (from choosing a CD, going to a Gig, learning an Instrument, writing a song, playing in a band, DJing, editing recordings (the list is endless) is possible in an enabling environment .
The impact of inclusion, whether musical or non-musical, is a huge benefit to the whole community; it is not a one way street. Exclusion is deeply rooted in our society and remains acceptable, ' we don't want to set people up to fail', ' we would offer music lessons to people with additional needs but no one with additional needs has ever asked us for them', 'we don't need this music venue to be accessible... no one in a wheelchair ever comes'...
All, believe it or not, comments that have been made to me in the last year. People who exist in a society that routinely gives them the message that they are not able are unlikely to be bashing the door down demanding their right to access. We will change that by assuming ability and ensuring that that equal access runs through everything we do in our society.
Disability is everyone's business. We are all responsible for removing the barriers that create it. We are each responsible to be the change we'd like to see in the world.
Written by Jane Williams, Published by Dom Palfreman