5 Dec 2013: Music and Disability

IMHSD PhD student, George Low, led this session on the topic of music, disability, and identity.

George’s research questions ask:

  • Why are there so few disabled musicians?
  • How does a physical impairment impact on musical identity?
  • How does disability affect reception, and consequently, music production?

We read: Honish (2009). ‘“Re-narrating Disability” through Musical Performance.’ Music Theory Online, 15(3-4). (http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.09.15.3/mto.09.15.3.honisch.html)

This session was an eye-opener… how little we talk about these issues in ‘mainstream’ music teaching and research!  Of course, community music practitioners and music therapists – both out in the field and (increasingly) inside academia – generate discourse on music and disability. Innovation in the field of enabling technologies is thriving, and this is one lively area for music research – for example, if you don’t already know about it you should check out the Skoog!

But seriously: how many Universities offer – as standard – a music degree curriculum which acknowledges and welcomes different types of physical ability?

More interesting reading on the topic:

  • Howe (2010). ‘Paul Wittgenstein and the Performance Of Disability.’ The Journal of Musicology, 27(2): 135-180
  • Rose and Meyer (2000). ‘The Future Is in the Margins: The Role of Technology and Disability in Educational Reform.’ White Paper prepared for US Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED451624.pdf)
  • Mackay (2013). Shakin’ All Over: Popular Music and Disability. Corporealities: Discourses of Disability series. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

About Nikki

Nikki is Senior Lecturer in Music at Edinburgh University.
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