Project ProfileCommon Pulse: a participatory gamelan project for children and young people with complex and severe learning and communication difficulties at the Seashell Trust

This knowledge exchange project is being led and delivered by the Seashell Trust in partnership with RIHSC, Manchester Metropolitan University. The idea for the initiative grew out of an arts and health symposium event held in MMU in March 2012 and the recognition that the Javanese gamelan set housed at the Royal School Manchester, Seashell Trust could be used more effectively. The aim of the scheme is to develop the Seashell Trust gamelan as a community resource and enhance the musical and communication skills and wellbeing of young people with learning and communication difficulties. An evaluation led by RIHSC, MMU, is exploring ways of developing practice and assessing participation within the sessions. The project involves: weekly gamelan sessions for Seashell staff and students; holiday projects and family workshops; staff training; evaluation meetings; and public dissemination events.

Principal InvestigatorRachel Swindells

  • Start Date1 July, 2014
  • End Date31 August, 2015

Project TeamDr Rachel Swindells and Prof Juliet Goldbart

External Providers and Collaborators

Seashell Trust, Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher (RosFish Music), RNCM (project volunteers), University of Roehampton (Prof Adam Ockelford), Anglia Ruskin University (Dr Helen Loth)

Projects Aims

  • To develop the Seashell Trust gamelan as a community resource
  • To improve the quality and standards of music delivery for children and young people
  • To embed learning and effective practice in host and partner organisations and share practice beyond the project
  • To develop the musical and social skills and wellbeing of children and young people with learning and communication difficulties and sensory impairment at Seashell Trust and in the wider community
  • To increase the skills, knowledge and confidence of music practitioners, teachers, support staff and therapists using the gamelan
  • To raise awareness of the wider benefits of musical participation and explore tools to record and evaluate participants’ progress across sessions


To date the project has delivered:

  • 19 student workshops
  • 3 staff training sessions
  • 2 holiday projects
  • 3 evaluation meetings
  • 3 project advisory group meetings


1 Interim report for Youth Music