Fosse Way School’s orchestra is an exciting project that was developed by and is supported by the charity Open Up Music Registered Charity No: 1167028. Company Registration No: 6414209. Open Up Music’s mission is to make orchestras accessible to young people with additional needs and disabilities.

Orchestra is person centred, accessible for all ages and abilities and incorporates the exciting use of musical technology. Through creating music together, we can make expressive music in real time and communicate with each other using meaningful sounds and purposeful rhythms. This project will continue to enable pupils of all ages and abilities to participate in performing musical repertoire using a range of instruments including the Clarion and SoundBeam. This is a great opportunity for pupils to develop their musical skills and communication.


We currently have 40 pupils accessing Orchestra at Fosse Way School from KS1 to POST16. The orchestras have access to a growing library of adapted, accessible musical repertoire by composers including Beethoven, Pachelbel and Monteverdi. Each piece of music has been expertly distilled to its essential ‘building blocks’, that can be put back together in any number of ways to meet each young person’s needs, and express their musical identities. Open Orchestras aims to empower young disabled people to play music together, independently and expressively, in real-time. However, not all pupils will access music in the same way. Within each orchestra, some young people might follow a simple coloured score, some will improvise, others will play and learn their parts from memory, while others may participate in a more casual fashion.

Open Orchestras repertoire is distributed through a combination of Clarion patterns, musical arrangement ideas, coloured notation guides and conventional musical scores to help your young people explore and re-imagine the music, whatever their needs and access requirements. Every piece of Open Orchestras repertoire is accompanied by an example scheme of work, supporting  staff to timetable their musical activities over the course of the year. Schemes of work follow a phased approach to bringing together the ensemble, building up from working in pairs to small groups to the full orchestra. For each piece of musical repertoire, schemes of work provide a starting point from which to plan accessible musical activities in response to the diverse needs and musical identities of each pupil.


Recently we have had some great successes across our orchestral groups. We are able to meet in small groups that can combine together establishing much larger groups, merging ages and abilities across EYFS to POST 16. We have formed the Holst Orchestra, the Stravinsky Orchestra and the Pachelbel Orchestra.

There have been some new developments on Clarion app, which have enhanced the use of iPads, the Sound beam and technology in the delivered sessions. We have used more visuals and videos in sessions and the orchestras are using colour coded instruments and reading corresponding colour coded musical notation to inform their playing. We have been using technology to record and film the orchestral compositions, music videos and performances.  Across the course of the year the orchestras embark on 6 large projects building up towards performances or music videos being made. Additionally, the photographs, film and recordings of compositions show evidence of progress and success. Mid-point and end-point reviews have shown that musical exploration is expanding, the young people’s independence is increasing and staff have noted that the pupils’ confidence is growing across other areas of the curriculum too.


At Fosse Way, we believe that this exciting orchestral project equips our young people with the skills they need in order to be successful in any career they go on to choose. Orchestra enables these young people to engage together, learn to create music interpedently and as part of an ensemble. This project supports them in being kind to one another, taking turns, building confidence and resilience as they learn to play solo or performing as a musical unit. In orchestra we take time to allow each other to express ourselves using rhythms, structured and unstructured sounds, the voice, instruments or musical technology (like the Clarion app or SoundBeam).

Many of the young people involved in this project are keen musicians that use the sessions as a creative outlet to hone their musical skills, communicate emotionally and expressively, as well as using music to enhance their own wellbeing. The Open Orchestras project covers a range of skills needed to be an effective member of the world of work. It enables our young people to explore other careers, relating to the musical profession in an explicit way, learning about composers, performers and sound technicians. As a school we provide our young people with performance opportunities that allow the pupils to present their work proudly to an audience.