by Author anita holford

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How integrated is musical inclusivity in the work of your Hub?

Organisations have been funded under the Musical Inclusion programme to, amongst other things, integrate – or ‘embed’ – musical inclusivity in the work of music education hubs. But what does that really mean?

This blog post from Rob Hunter, part of the Musical inclusion Evaluation and Networking Team, is part of our two big debates for the remainder of the Musical Inclusion programme: ‘Quality in music work with young people in challenging circumstances’, and ‘Integrating inclusion in Hubs’. It’ll feed in to online discussions and printed materials, face-to-face networking (at the Gathering) and a national platform for musical inclusivity at the Music Education Expo.

The next blog on this topic will be an interview with Debra King, CEO of Brighter Sound in Manchester.

Do join the discussions by commenting below and taking part in our second Google Hangout live online discussion on Monday 16th February at 12.30pm (scroll to comments at end to find out more).

Download this blog as a Word document below


We’ve realised more and more throughout this programme that what has confused people about the work of Musical Inclusion funded (and wider community music) organisations is the terminology. So I’ll start with some definitions and sources:

What is musical inclusion/musical inclusivity?

Youth Music’s outline of its current grants programme describes it as: “an approach to music learning that includes everyone and all types of music. This means that we want to see a true diversity of styles, genres, and approaches to learning available to children and young people from all backgrounds. … Being musically inclusive means challenging our ideas of what music is for, who music is for, and what role it can have in all our lives.” 

Towards a musically inclusive England, Youth Music’s submission to ACE’s review of the organisation in 2014 says: “We believe that true musical inclusion can only happen if there are opportunities for children and young people to be supported as musicians across all genres and styles, by practitioners who understand their needs and worldviews and who are equipped to help them on their individual learning journeys.” 

Who are children in challenging circumstances?

 “We work particularly with children and young people whose challenging circumstances act as barriers to accessing music-making. We know from the organisations we fund that these challenges may include economic, life condition, life circumstance, behavioural.” Towards a musically inclusive England, Youth Music’s submission to ACE’s review of the organisation in 2014.

And what have Youth Music have said about integrating this approach to music work in the work of Hubs?

Youth Music’s Musical Inclusion ‘Additional module guidance’ in November 2011 had asked successful applicants to “1. Work alongside Youth Music and other key strategic partners to support the delivery of the National Plan for Music Education. Hosts of this module will work at local and regional level, directly linking into the national level to share knowledge and learning. At local level, this funding will support hosts to engage with the appropriate local strategic and delivery partners, such as MEHs, to ensure the needs of CCC are understood.” The brief for the extension period 2014/15, asked applicants in their final year of the programme to ‘support others in music education to understand this [musically inclusive] approach and to work to make it more embedded in formal music education structures’.

But why integrate?  

Here are some reasons we’ve picked up from discussions with Musical Inclusion projects and further afield – but you will have others. If so, please share them in the comments box below and we’ll include them in ongoing discussions and documentation:

The arguments for

a.    Values: 

the only way to achieve high quality music education for all young people is to be part of a network of organisations pursuing this shared aim – no one organisation can provide for all young people’s music education

b.    Funding and resources:

* we make better use of resources and avoid duplication if we work together 

* the Hub is a potential source of funds, and equipment for the Musical Inclusion funded organisation   

c.    Reach and influence: 

* the Musical Inclusion funded organisations are a source of pedagogies and genres that will help the Hub reach young people it currently doesn’t reach and good news stories that attract interest and support eg from local media, donors 

* hubs, through their music service leads, may have political status, and connections with the local authority and people with influence 

d.    Community of practice: 

hub partners eg music services and Musical Inclusion organisations each have their own (sometimes overlapping) workforce – each can learn from, as well as positively influence, all musicians in the area. Together they’re far more influential than separate.

The arguments against

a.    Values:

each organisation in a Hub believes their approach produces better outcomes for young people than other organisations in the Hub  

b.    Funding and resources: 

* each organisation fears competition in applying for funding/commissions and in the market place

* Musical Inclusion funded organisations don’t want to spend time and get caught up in Hub bureaucracy in the vain hope that it will be time well spent

* music services think that community music work is marginal and irrelevant to their main interests, so they would rather let them get on with the inclusion work

c.    Influence:

* organisations fear of loss of, or sharing of, influence

* each organisation believes it’s strong enough to go it alone 

* one organisation is very happy simply to lead 

d.    Community of practice: 

lack of understanding of each other’s practice, can’t see the benefits of trying to do so

What does or might integration look like: the 7S Framework

The McKinsey 7S Framework may provide a useful way of looking at the degree to which musical inclusivity is integrated into a Hub. This is very much a work in progress, so let us know what you think in the comments box below.

It’s a model used in business for analysing how well your organisation is positioned to achieve its objectives. It proposes seven internal aspects of an organisation (or in the case of Hubs, a network) that need to be accepted, understood and acted upon if it is to be successful.  

The diagram below shows one of the ways that the framework can be depicted. Central to the framework is the idea of Superordinate goals, where two or more people or groups need to be involved in order to achieve them (taking the idea of ‘shared values’ one step further). The diagram also shows that all elements are interconnected – for example, a change in strategy has great or small implications for the other six ‘S’s.

It’s best used as a self-assessment framework. Some people use scales, eg where where 0= ’not yet off the drawing board’ and 10 means ’perfect’. 

You might ask questions such as: what would it look like if we were to score ourselves at 10 on Staffing? What would be the ‘ideal’ degree of integration (these will differ for each Hub)? With some of the Ss, aiming for 10 may not be feasible or desirable but you may want to ask questions such as: ‘If we’re aiming for seven and assess ourselves now at three, what will it take to get from three to seven within two years?

A major benefit of the 7S is the conversation that goes with it. If you’re a Musical Inclusion funded organisation, is your relationship with your hub lead (or if you’re the hub lead, with your partners in the Hub) such that you can have this conversation at a senior/strategic level? 

Following are some questions which might help guide your thinking and discussions:

Shared Values/Superordinate Goals

1.    First, think about what are or might be the superordinate goals for a hub that is successfully embedding inclusivity?  What illustrations do you have of superordinate goals that already exist?

This itself is can be a tricky exercise: the prompts below  suggest a couple of points you might think would need to be present , but you will have your own list. 

The National Plan for Music Education can help here, but it’s open to interpretation. For example, it says “Every child should have access to high quality music education”.

But there are different interpretations of ‘every’ and ‘access’ and it could be said that because music is a compulsory part of education to age 14, ‘every’ child already has ‘access’. And there are different interpretations of ‘quality’ in music education, so whose definition of quality should be used? 

2.    Then, for each of the Ss around this central point, ask yourself, can you show clearly how shared values and superordinate goals are reflected in that strategy and followed through into objectives? What would it take to ensure those goals are integrated across the Hub? 


3.    Does the Hub have a unified and written strategy which includes musically inclusive work? If not, does musical inclusion work have its own written strategy? If so, is this given the appropriate level of time, attention and resources?

4.    Does the strategy actually govern practice and day-to-day operations or is it only for show?


5.    Does the structure of the Hub give parity of esteem to the values  of musical inclusivity?

6.    Is the musical inclusion function represented in the senior management / strategic leadership of the Hub?

7.    Is musically inclusive work in a separate silo or is there effective co-planning and communication with other parts of the Hub?


The Hub’s different systems might include: •    Funding •    Financial management •    Quality assurance •    Promotion •    Programme development and basic offer (e.g. genres) •    Monitoring and evaluation •    Recruitment and selection

8.    Are the shared values reflected in the design and operation of these systems? 

9.    Do these individually and together treat musically inclusive work with parity of esteem alongside other music work?

Staffing/ workforce

10.    Is the Hub workforce – lead organisation staff, partner organisation staff – able to carry forward the strategy: sufficient in numbers and range; well-deployed to deliver all parts of the strategy?

11.    Is inclusion a factor in recruitment – do you ask about applicants’ experience of and attitude towards musical inclusion and children in challenging circumstances?  

12.    How many of the staff employed in the Musical Inclusion organisation are also employed in the Music Service and other parts of the Hub? How do you interpret this figure? Are there benefits in more overlap?


13.    Is the overall  awareness and skill-set of the Hub workforce sufficient to deliver the strategy?

14.    How much mutual awareness, skills development activity is there in relation to  people’  work across the hub e.g. work with individual young people, work with groups, work in formal and less formal situations?

Style (leadership and management)

15.    To what extent is this congruent with the superordinate goals of the Hub? This might be evidenced by 

•    how the Hub leadership articulates what the Hub is about to the outside world

•    how the Hub leadership ‘behaves’ with staff across the Hub in formal and informal settings

•    how the Hub leadership spends its time: desk-based work; the projects it visits etc.

Let us know what you think about this model – is it a useful way of looking at inclusion and integration into your Hub?  

And what about the questions we’ve developed – do you have improvements, additions?