Open Sound Ensemble

A free inclusive music-making opportunity for young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their parents/carers in southeast London

LPO Open Sound Ensemble

“My daughter felt very happy when in a room full of happy people making music. Her attention span was so much better and her understanding and listening skills are really developing already!"

Parent of Open Sound Ensemble participant, October 2019

Our Open Sound Ensemble is a free, inclusive music-making opportunity for young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their parents/carers in southeast London. Open Sound Ensemble courses run three times a year in school holidays and develop musical skills in a supportive and creative environment. The project is run with the support of the Royal Greenwich Music Hub and Lewisham Music, through the South Riverside Music Partnership. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the Open Sound Ensemble, read our guidance below. If you'd like to be notified when applications open for our next course, you can join our mailing list here. 


What can I expect from the Open Sound Ensemble?

Working as an ensemble alongside specialist workshop leaders and musicians from the LPO, we rehearse, perform and create our own music. We use a mixture of both traditional and accessible digital instruments to explore sounds, rhythms and melodies, and make music together. We interact with each other as an ensemble, sometimes following cues from the LPO team and each other, and sometimes making our own creative decisions. Open Sound Ensemble courses will often conclude with a short informal sharing moment with family and friends. 

Open Sound Ensemble sessions are based on a structure but will always respond flexibly to the individual requirements of the young musicians taking part, creating a musical role for everyone in the group. All professionals involved are experienced and trained to work specifically with young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

During the course we run two different Open Sound Ensemble groups – a morning and afternoon group. In your application you will be asked to select a preference, but if you’re not sure which group is right for your young person, don’t worry as we will work with parents/carers to find the right group for their young person. Here is a little guidance on this:

Morning group: for young people with little or no prior musical experience. They might have explored a little bit of hand-held percussion (drums, shakers, tambourines) at school or in music therapy sessions, or have encountered an instrument a couple of times.

Afternoon group: for young people with more musical experience – maybe they have played a particular instrument in the past or play one now (e.g. piano, guitar, recorder) or they sing.

Both sessions are two hours long, inclusive of time for participants to access and become orientated with the space and time for breaks as necessary. Places are limited to 10 young people per session.


Who can take part?

The Open Sound Ensemble is designed to be accessible to young people of secondary school age with special educational needs and disabilities. Each young musician will need to be accompanied by a parent or carer.  Accompanying adults will be required to stay throughout the session and are very welcome to join the ensemble to play alongside their young people if they wish!

While there are no specific entry requirements or audition processes for young participants, we would suggest that the project will be most suited to young people who are:

  • aware of their surroundings and able to interact in a group setting
  • able to follow guidance from the LPO team, make deliberate creative choices and communicate these (verbally or non-verbally) to the group
  • aware of their contribution to the group and able to participate with intention
  • able to maintain focus for an extended period of time (note that there will be flexibility in this and breaks can be taken throughout the sessions as required)

Please note that young people do not need to be able to play an instrument (whether traditional or digital) before they join the ensemble. We will discuss all applications on an individual basis so we can best support each young person’s specific needs.

Once we have received your application, the LPO Education & Community team will be in touch with you directly to discuss your application in more detail. If you would like to discuss the application before this point, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


How can I apply?

Applications for Open Sound Ensemble are a two-stage process:

  • Online application form to provide basic details
  • Follow-up conversation with a member of the LPO Education and Community team

Our next Open Sound Ensemble course is taking place on 26th and 27th October and will be taking place at Thomas Tallis School in Kidbrooke. The morning group will be from 10.30am - 12.30pm and the afternoon group will be from 1.30 - 2.30pm. We are now accepting applications from both returners to the ensemble and newcomers. 

Apply now

If you would like to talk further about the ensemble, please contact Hannah Foakes, Education and Community Project Coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07887 501531.


The LPO Open Sound Ensemble is kindly supported by by the Borrows Charitable Trust, the Boshier-Hinton Foundation, the John Horniman's Children's Trust, the Souter Charitable Trust, the David Solomons Charitable Trust, the John Thaw Foundation, Sir William Boreman’s Foundation and The Viney Family