Best Practice

School music as a vehicle for inclusion

Music is a contradictory subject – sometimes elitist and yet a powerful instrument for inclusion. To achieve the latter, Daniel Sobel and Ben Gudgeon urge a focus on ‘opportunity’ and ‘belonging’. But how we can achieve this for all students?


It was a beautiful moment. The school I was visiting used their main musical performance of the year to play a piece of music from each of the 20 countries where their students came from.

It was a celebration of difference as well as a way of articulating to the students (and parents) that “we hear you, literally, we hear your music and your culture – and you all belong here”.

Expressive forms of music-making enhance social bonding, cooperation, and realisation of community (Turino, 2009; Maida & Beck, 2018). Music flourishes everywhere. However, most secondary music classrooms in the UK focus on presentational performance over participatory performance (MacGregor, 2020).

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