News and stories Stories Gareth Hughes Inclusion is a thread that runs through all of our work at Severn Arts, its central to our new business plan. My new role as Inclusion Lead is to develop an inclusion offer with colleagues that meets the needs of schools and young people in all settings across Worcestershire. I’ve got a lot of ideas and there are loads of opportunities, the key is keeping focused and making sure that I am supporting our staff to ensure all teaching is inclusive and accessible. And already we have got a lot in place. In September we started our Inclusive Choir working in partnership with Soundabout and MAC Makes Music, I’m leading on the pilot the nurture group programme funded by Changing Tracks, we’ve got our Lead the Beat programme and Open Orchestra. I was fascinated by music from a young age. I had small group violin lessons at primary school for a short time, but they didn’t really suit my way of learning. When I was 10, I had a snare drum for Christmas and a few years later my parents bought me a drum kit. At that time there were no drum tutors, no syllabus to follow and I spent hours just playing along with the radio, working it out for myself and playing a few gigs with brother’s band. "I preferred working that way – learning by doing. That’s where I was most comfortable, like a lot of young people." I was in my mid-20’s when I started working for the music service. My first role was at a high school running a samba drumming class for 12 teenagers. This was when I realised that my nontraditional way of teaching inspired and captured the attention of the children and that by working with the children, we could adapt the programme and make it more their own. It wasn’t until 2008 that I was diagnosed with autism. It explained a lot about my way of learning growing up and did mean I could relate to a lot of the young people I was starting to work with. "Like me, many young people don’t fit the particular model or paradigm that school, and sometimes music education, expects them to. It’s not necessary for them, they don’t need to follow a syllabus, join groups, work towards a pre-defined outcome: the creativity in the process will deliver what they need." As well as my teaching, for the next 12 months a lot of my work will be working with our teachers to embed our inclusive practices, responding to what we are learning through for example Fair Play, our partnership project with Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Music Hubs. I’m going to be developing programmes for our Music Box bus which will be touring the county to schools and community events. We also want to build on all of the inclusive programmes we have up and running like our inclusive choir and open orchestras. So plenty to get my teeth into!