Empowering young disabled musicians to build inclusive youth orchestras.
OpenUp Music has worked with disabled young people to develop a musical instrument which is playable in real time and to a high level using any part of the body, including the eyes.
OpenUp Music was founded in 2013 by Barry Farrimond, an authority on the development of assistive music technology, and Doug Bott, an expert on accessible music. They decided a new approach was needed to raise expectations for young disabled musicians.
Since then, more than 120 young disabled musicians have played in their orchestras in the South West. 2016-18 will see regional expansion with new Open School Orchestras in the North East, Cornwall and the Midlands, benefitting a further 170 young disabled musicians, leading to a full national launch in September 2018.
This year, the South West Open Youth Orchestra reached a new audience with an acclaimed performance live on Radio 3 on BBC Music Day. "More and more young disabled people are realising their independence through music and technology, showing both their schools and their parents that they can achieve and aspire to more in life” says Doug.
The founders hope to establish the National Open Youth Orchestra, the UK's first national, disabled-led youth orchestra, by 2018.