Case Studies

Norfolk Autistic Society (NAS) – EXPRESS

We were approached by NAS early in the year as many of their teenage members showed an interest in music technology and wanted to start a regular youth club where the young people could create and improvise with music on iPads.

After an initial meeting with Delores from NAS we had a consultation with Laboratory Media Education (Norwich based music technologists) to explore the best ways of realising the wishes of the group as well as ensuring the work was progressive and educational. As the sessions were rolling on a fortnightly basis whilst funding was present it was decided that the programme should begin with composition, based around GarageBand and Thumb Jam apps for the iPad. When the group had grasped the technology and software we could then move onto improvisation, music theory and eventually creating music to moving image.

As well as being a fun and constructive session we also wanted to create a programme whereby hard and soft outcomes could be achieved and monitored week by week. Skills such as sharing and working in groups were developed as well creative thinking and decision making. Practical skills such as concentration and coordination were also worked on by using rhythm and composition exercises.

When possible and appropriate we always try and encourage the participants to take leadership in the provision so that the work progresses toward what the young people want and remains organic – after a few sessions the group became more confident of their abilities and started making suggestions of how they could apply their new found knowledge, it also became an opportunity to express in which direction they wanted the sessions to go so we have now built in a module of stop motion animation and foley/fx sound recording into the programme.

Here are some quotes from three participants:

‘It is one of the most awesome things I have done with the Autism group, really enjoy myself and would love to do more’

‘I enjoy making music and chatting with my friend’

‘I really enjoy making my own music and using different instruments’

You can see more pictures of the group in the gallery below


Discover Experience Arts (DXA) – EVOLVE

DXA is a large holiday outreach programme funded by Norfolk County Council through their Short Breaks scheme that provides over 440 places a year to children and young people with complex needs. In 2010 we were commissioned by Norfolk County Council to research and develop a Pathfinders holiday scheme focused around music and the arts,  in 2011 this was developed into DXA. Now in it’s fourth year we are very proud to see further growth in this important and engaging scheme.

Due to the eligibility criteria given by Short Breaks the participants at DXA are aged between 6 – 18 and have a range of complex needs. The sessions are held in 5 districts of Norfolk and each facilitates up to 10 young people. Due to the nature of the sessions it is essential that the activities on offer are constantly developed and monitored to ensure they are age and ability appropriate, engaging, safe and of course fun. Because of this we regularly hold meetings with all staff involved including representatives from healthcare and support organisations to ensure we are providing a high quality activity, that all staff are adhering to policy ensuring the young people are safe and to gather information about the participants personal development and behavior. By consulting with the parents and carers as well as carefully monitoring the engagement of the young people we feel that each young person is given individual attention in a group environment.

The activities on offer are constantly evolving such as animation, puppetry, junk percussion and drama as well as the recent introduction of music and movie technology.

Here is what some of our families had to say:

”If my son could be taught by art and music every day, he would come on leaps and bounds.”

”It gives my son a social outlet where he gets to meet and work with other people.”

”The support staff and (workshop) leaders were all fantastic and were able to include my daughter in all activities even though she was less able both physically & cognitively than other children.”

”My son requires a high level of support. Few establishments can provide this and so breaks like this are hard to find.”




Colman School – EVOLVE

We were asked to work with a group of children from the Colman School that have varying degrees of  hearing impairment. This gave us a great cause for not only adapting traditional methods of music and movement but to also utilise the possibilities of the iPad, the group begins in September and so this case study is the result of the research we have done in the run up to starting the group.

It was apparent that the school was very progressive in what it provided for the children with hearing impairment and music was already being used to explain things like syllabic structure (ie caterpillar would be represented as 4 semiquavers) and so we felt comfortable in taking these types of methods further and introducing more experimental techniques. We began by researching the basic properties of sound as it experienced very differently by those with hearing problems which we ask the children to explore. By attaching transducer speakers to the table and playing different tones the children will be able to feel the range of frequencies for example. We will introduce an app where the young person is asked to speak or sing into the iPad, the sound is then marked on a graph which moves up and down according to the volume of the voice – we can then ask the young person to try and stay within a certain threshold and ask them to remember what it sounds and feels like at a particular volume.

We can also make use of traditional methods incorporating turn taking, games and listening exercises. Although a main focus in the group is to communicate and explore sound and music we also pay particular attention to other senses which may be heightened due to hearing loss.

We have purchased a number of apps which aid the understanding of sound and its’ properties. The video below is a demo of AudioTools which is designed for acousticians and is a comprehensive tool for measuring and ‘seeing’ sound. The main use of the app for us is to show the children a visual representation of the sound they are making and to control the sound. By speaking or singing into the iPad the app converts the audio signal into a soundwave where we can explain what parts of the wave are low and high frequencies for example. We can also use the oscillator in the app to play pure tones through a transducer attached to a work surface, then the young people can feel the vibrations caused by different tones thus understanding the properties of sound, tone and volume.