Open School Orchestras (OSO) is a growing national movement supporting music hubs, arts organisations and schools in giving SEN/Disabled young musicians opportunities to play in an ensemble and perform. OpenUp Music provide resources to facilitate this - adapted musical repertoire, schemes of work, and a new generation of accessible musical instruments - alongside training and support for music leaders and school staff.
Research by OpenUp Music found that whilst almost every mainstream secondary school had an orchestra or large ensemble, almost no special schools had them. The OSO movement was set up to remedy this, and OpenUp Music are now supporting dozens of schools and settings across England.
Cornwall Music Service Trust secured funding from Youth Music and Cornwall Music Education Hub to set up two OSOs in 2016-17, in Pencalenick School (a special school with 120 pupils) and the ARK at Richard Lander School (a SEN/D unit of 10 students within a large secondary school with 1,000 students).
The year-long project involves the 10 students of each orchestra working in small groups or individually to try out different instruments and develop skills on the one they choose. As confidence builds they work in larger groups, composing and performing their own music, and developing the skills of playing as an ensemble. When the time is right, they all come together to form the orchestra, and prepare for some gigs. Alongside gigs in school, "Hub Sounds" (the large showcase event run by Cornwall Music Education Hub) provides the opportunity for the OSOs to perform for an audience of almost 1000, allowing the OSOs to share the stage on equal terms with their peers from mainstream ensembles, and raise aspirations of what inclusive music can be, for the students, parents, schools, and the public.