Music Workshops

We organize accessibility workshops for all audiences from young students to professional artists. We also give talks and presentations. Don’t hesitate to ask for more details.

Disability is too rarely considered in music education today. ArtsAbly proposes projects that include more accessibility conversations in the classroom, with children from several age groups. This page presents examples of workshops that are organized in music classrooms, working collaboratively with the teachers, the students, the school staff, and if needed, the parents.

Example 1: Braille music discovery workshop

Did you ever wonder how a person with low vision or who is blind reads music? This workshop explores Braille music with students who are used to read traditional music notation. With the help of CNIB (the Canadian National Institute for the Blind), who helped providing the printed scores, the students were able to dive into the tactile experience of reading music differently.

Lyrics and Braille score for the song A whole new world
Diane in front of students, sitting in her wheelchair and showing the Braille score

Workshop held at Community Music Schools of Toronto in January 2023.

Example 2: American Sign Language (ASL) Music singing workshop

Music signing is poetry and dance put together. When a Sign Language Musician signs a song, they do not translate the lyrics literally, they perform the words. It is called Vernacular Sign Language. Partnering with a sign language performer, this workshop teaches the students how to sign a song and how to perform it, first by understanding the concept of vernacular sign language, and then… to have fun signing the words! Facial expressions and body language are as important as the words themselves.

The following pictures were taken during a workshop with the ASL performer Gaitrie Persaud in Toronto.

Gaitrie Persaud standing in front of a white board, showing words of the lyrics The Greatest by Sia.
Gaitire standing on the left and Diane sitting in her wheelchair on the right, showing the lyrics of the song The Greatest by Sia.

Workshop held at Community Music Schools of Toronto in January 2023.

The song was performed at the final recital of the music school in June 2023.

A group of students performing the song in ASL. Diane is helping them in the front.

Example 3: New technology and adaptive instruments workshop

Some musicians with reduced mobility or lacking parts of their body change their music practices to be able to perform. Many possibilities exist, from using other parts of their bodies to new technology and adaptive or adapted instruments (an adaptive instrument is an instrument that can be modified regardless of the person who is using it; an adapted instrument is an instrument built for the person who is using it). Sometimes it is as simple as using a software on a tablet. For this workshop, we have used the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI) on tablets for the technological part. We have also looked at other ways to perform, for example playing drums, piano or guitar with feet or with the Yamaha Tenori-on (great for younger children). We also tried wearable devices connected to a smartphone controlling music patterns.

A group of students playing instruments differently in the music room, surrounded with a few iPads on stands.

Workshops held at Community Music Schools of Toronto in April and May 2023, with different age groups of students.

The group of younger students performed a composition on Tenori-on at the final recital of the music school in June 2023.

Diane sitting in her wheelchair, setting up the Tenori-on instruments before the performance.
Group of students performing on the Tenori-On. Diane is on the front helping them, sitting in her wheelchair. A little boy sits on her knees.

Other workshops exist. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. We are constantly looking for new partnerships so if you have an idea of someone you would like to recommend, send us a message!