Tech Column: Rebooting the system

Kate Rounding
Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Promoting inclusivity and accessibility through the use of music technology, Kate Rounding sets out some practical options for your music classroom.

 Young musician plays the Arcana Strum
Young musician plays the Arcana Strum

Fred Glenister

The benefits of music technology are a central focus of the Department for Education's (DfE) 2022 National Plan for Music Education. Music technology is crucial for all music students, young people and emerging professionals, and its use in education increases access to music-making for everyone.

If you are looking for engaging and accessible ways to enhance inclusivity in your music classroom, there's a lot of exciting new technology available. The advent of new and inclusive exam suites from Trinity College London (Sounds of Intent) and RSL (Group Performance exams) mean that music technology can provide even more opportunities to progress and gain recognised qualifications. While there is no ‘one-size fits all' tech, having options that can meet differing needs is essential. Here are some brilliant products that can engage learners of all abilities and those with additional needs or disabilities.


The Dubler microphone, along with the Dubler 2 app, is a real-time vocal MIDI controller that transforms your voice into any musical instrument. Perfect for creating melodies, drumbeats and chord progressions, even if you are a beginner – if you can hum, sing, beatbox or whistle, you can compose with the Dubler 2 app. You can also calibrate your preferred microphone for use. Dubler 2 is a great composition tool suitable for all ages and settings, and is available from £189.

Orba 2

This is a fun little hand-held synth that can sample, loop and quantise your audio. It has built-in sounds and an internal speaker and can connect to external speakers via Bluetooth. Suitable for all ages and very easy to play, although some dexterity is needed as the ‘keys' are small and closely grouped. The Orba could be great in ensemble or group settings. Its RRP is £149.99.

Arcana Strum

The Strum from Arcana emulates the experience of playing the guitar. The instrument's flexibility is fantastic and offers the opportunity for a musician to learn, develop and master playing that is comparable to a traditional instrument. I have seen the Strum in action, played by a young musician at an SEN/D school. The young musician had been playing a standard guitar in the school's inclusive ensemble but found it a physical challenge. The Strum enables him to participate equitably, create a better sound, and provide the opportunity to evidence his progression through the ‘Sounds of Intent' assessment framework. This costs £1,070, but you can receive a 15 per cent discount with voucher code TiME2022.

Odla Music

The Odla is a music notation hardware interface. Two versions are available. The Odla for partially-sighted or blind users offers additional features that make it easier for musicians and composers to use the keyboard and navigate the notation software. The keyboard is tactile with raised buttons and staff lines, logically arranged keys, and a customisable voice-over function. Compatible with MuseScore and Dorico 4, the Odla is currently priced at €549, and €1200 for a special version for those who are visually impaired or are speech language pathologists.

Sound Without Sight

Organisations that can advise on accessibility options for partially sighted and blind learners include Sound Without Sight ( This new online community brings together blind and partially sighted musicians, producers and engineers to share knowledge. Topics include accessibility features and new developments for mainstream applications and DAWs. Also, RNIB has a dedicated Music Advisory Service that can support blind and partially-sighted musicians with braille notation and other specialist requirements. Email for further information.

Soundbeam 6

Soundbeam uses motion sensors and switch technology to translate even the slightest movement into music. It is widely used to engage students with SEN/D in music-making and composition. Soundbeam 6, the latest version of the technology, comprises a touch-screen interface and an extensive library of instrumental and sampled sounds. The ability to add and trigger visuals offers a multi-media experience. Purchasing a Soundbeam set is a substantial investment, but the benefits the instrument can bring to young people with profound and multiple disabilities are enormous. Soundbeam is available from £2505.

Many other technologies are available for inclusive music-making, such as Skoog 2, Skwitch, Eyeharp and OddBall. Additionally, emerging technologies will bring new ways to engage learners in 2023; for example, Clarion (Open Up Music), Beat Blocks (Playable Technology), and Cmpsr (Digit). As we look ahead to the promised appointment of four ‘national centres of excellence in inclusion, CPD, music technology and pathways to industry', it would be great to see digital instruments and accessible music technologies made available to use.

Visit for more accessible music tech ideas.