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Loud and Clear: The event letting disabled people's music be heard

In February, an event to celebrate and promote disabled persons music was held in the Scottish Parliament. Loud & Clear: Let Disabled Peoples Music Be Heard, was organised by fiddle player David Nicolson and sponsored by Rachael Hamilton MSP. It aimed to raise awareness of the barriers that disabled persons face when trying to get into music, whilst celebrating the music itself.

We caught up with David to find out more about the event, its aims, and why visibility is an essential component when bringing down barriers faced by disabled artists.

Tell us about Loud and Clear – what was the evening about, and what were its aims?

Loud and Clear was an evening to celebrate disabled peoples musical talents.  The key aim of the event was to discuss what we can all do to make sure that disabled musicians have the opportunities to have their music heard across Scotland and beyond. I wanted people to leave the event questioning what more they and their organisations could do to make the music industry more accessible to disabled musicians.

What did you hope that the participants and the audience would take away from the event?

I wanted the participants and the audience to leave with a positive feeling - that there is an opportunity for us all to create real and lasting positive change within the musical community and to ensure that disabled musicians have their talents recognised.

If we want to see a musical community in Scotland that is truly inclusive and disability friendly then we need everyone to work together to bring about positive change- David Nicolson

What is your experience working with disabled musicians?

I've not had much experience of working specifically with disabled musicians, but it has been a privilege to work with Drake Music Scotland on the Loud and Clear event planning and to learn what fantastic work that they do with the disabled musicians that they work with. What barriers do you think are currently in place when it comes to the music industry?

What barriers do you think are currently in place when it comes to the music industry?

This is an important question. I am extremely concerned about the lack of opportunities that there are in the music industry for disabled musicians to showcase their wonderful talents. As a result of this, I think the music industry within Scotland and beyond are missing out on a huge pool of untapped musical talent and potential. That makes me sad, and that is why I am determined to bring about positive change.

The music industry would be even better if disabled musicians had the chance to perform, to record and to feel included in the musical community. I also think that more disability awareness is needed across the music industry - particularly when it comes to invisible disabilities such as autism, dyslexia and so on. I think that this is something that needs to be taken on board with urgency.

What can be done to bring these barriers down?

I think it is vitally important that everyone in the music sector works together to ensure that the barriers that I have mentioned in the previous answer and more are broken down. If we want to see a musical community in Scotland that is truly inclusive and disability friendly then we need everyone to work together to bring about positive change. It is vitally important that organisations such as Creative Scotland and others listen to, and take on board, the views of disabled musicians and act upon them.

What have you got planned for the future?

I look forward to continuing to work on the Loud and Clear campaign and working with others to bring about positive and real change. I am also keen to do far more with my music and fiddle playing. I want to use my music in the autism work that I do and to get out performing. I want to show people that being autistic is no barrier to being good at music. I also look forward to continuing to performing with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra this year.

We've got some key information about Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) on our website.

This article was published on 13 Mar 2018