Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has awarded Drake Music Scotland £23,000 towards its Figurenotes project which in 2011 will enable over 330 children and adults with disabilities access to playing musical instruments, composition and performance alongside delivery of training for over 100 teachers in how to use the system with their pupils independently.


Figurenotes is a notation system created in Finland which uses colour and shape to enable users to play tunes easily and independently on conventional instruments such as the guitar and keyboard.  The system has been developed by Resonaari Music School in Helsinki over the past ten years and has proven particular successful for people with learning disabilities.


In 2009, Drake Music Scotland began introducing Figurenotes to Scotland through a pilot supported by Creative Scotland’s Inspire Fund.  Due to its success and popularity with schools, Drake is keen to develop this work with a new Figurenotes programme supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation which will see us deliver around 115 days with 8 new local authority partnerships as well as continuing support for original pilot group participants.


The main key partnership of the programme is with City of Edinburgh Council to develop a programme with managers and members of their instrumental service team to use Figurenotes with groups of pupils starting to learn musical instruments and play in ensembles.  DMS’ role will be to provide training and support for this project, piloted over 1 year, and work with the music service to develop the use of Figurenotes in initial stages of learning to read music and handle transition to conventional notation.


The second main partnership is with Charlie Byrne, Head of School of Humanities at University of Strathclyde and responsible for training of PGDE students – future music teachers.  He is also a widely-published researcher into music education and the project will include research into the background of Figurenotes in Scotland, use of Figurenotes as a teaching tool, and support for students on placement / new teachers in post.


Other new developments include work with a number of local authorities new to Figurenotes, to run training events and provide resources and support for teachers and instructors in 7 areas namely: Orkney, North Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire and City of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Angus.