Last week I made my now annual pilgrimage to the Music Education Expo at London’s Barbican Centre. The expo has quickly become a firm fixture in many music educators calendars, mainly due to its diverse selection of seminars and talks.
The small scale of the exhibition means that a 10 minute walk around allows you to get an idea of the layout. One thing that became immediately apparent was the lack of any of the specialist Assistive Music Technology (AMT) suppliers. Even though both Skoog and Soundbeam were up for the Music Teacher Magazine Awards, neither were in evidence in the space. One exhibitor had a Skoog on their stand, but without the specialists to demonstrate it it sat unused for most of the show.
Korg again had a selection of electronic gadgets that could have use within an SEN/D setting. The ClipHit is a development of the clip-on trigger technology first seen on the Wavedrum Mini (see Andrew’s review), of which we are great fans. The unit still has self-contain sounds and speakers, but focuses purely on clip-on triggers (three in total) and a footswitch. Unfortunately the unit has purely drum and percussion sounds, losing some of the expressive instrument sounds that made the Wavedrum Mini such a hit in workshops. We’ll hopefully have a more in-depth review in a few months.
Drake Music led a TeachMeet session, which this year avoided any overt sales pitches and focussed on Music Hubs. There were some great examples of Hubs engaging with SEN/D schools, although it seems much more needs to be done.
There were talks by:
The Music Teacher Magazine Awards also happen alongside the event, with both Soundbeam and Skoog competing for this years ‘Best SEN Resource’ category. It was won by Soundbeam, perhaps reflecting its contribution to the sector over the past 25 years.
The most welcome news contained in the show guide was the fact that the show will be moving to Kensington Olympia next year (25th & 26th February). This should mean that the problems that the show has encountered since its inception – notably sound bleed between the exhibition space and seminar rooms – will be solved.
It seems that there is an opportunity for someone to make more of the SEN strand at the show. With many children with additional needs now in mainstream schools, it would make sense to have a greater presence at the show for instruments and experts.
iPads were given a small ‘app showcase’ on the Friday afternoon, something that might work well for AMT. Shows are increasingly expensive for suppliers to attend, but an afternoon or single days opportunity to show their equipment would surely be welcome.