Exploring and cultivating connections within ecosystems of inclusive musicking
: Moving towards sustained access to music

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This practice-based research project investigates the application of music technology in inclusive music practices in Northern Ireland. In particular, the author shines a spotlight on issues surrounding the longevity of novel accessible digital musical instruments developed for research purposes. While such devices can be highly enabling for disabled musicians, they seldom see sustained use outside of academia. Three physically disabled musicians from the third-sector community music organisation, the Drake Music Project Northern Ireland, collaborate with the author to design novel musical instruments that address their unique access barriers in music-making. The author captures this activity through three qualitative ethnographic case studies that document the design and development of the instruments and their use by the musicians. The One Handed Musical Instrument Trust collaborates in one case study,where the application of novel accessible digital musical instruments is explored in a private music tuition context. The author argues that, for the three musicians, inclusion in music is not achieved solely by providing a seemingly accessible instrument but by social connections in a broader ecosystem of facilitators, musicking processes and additional artefacts such as companion music technologies. The author finds it vital to acknowledge his embedded role within the musicians' ecosystem that resulted from his research and instrument design activities. He was a significant contributor to supporting the novel instruments' long-term use in providing access to music. This research occurred during the coronavirus pandemic, which limited the musicians' participation in the design process. However, this situation further supports the claim that supportive, inclusive music ecosystems are vital in bringing musicians access to music.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsUK AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership
SupervisorFranziska Schroeder (Supervisor) & Miguel Ortiz (Supervisor)


  • inclusive music
  • accessibility
  • disability
  • longevity
  • accessible music technology
  • accessible digital musical instruments
  • assistive technology
  • participatory design
  • inclusive design
  • maker technologies
  • community
  • artefact ecologies

Cite this