funded by the QCA, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the RNIB and the Amber Trust

Sounds of Intent project logo The 'Sounds of Intent' research project was set up in 2002 jointly by the Institute of Education, University of London with the Royal National Institute of the Blind. It grew out of earlier research undertaken by the same team which examined the provision of music in special schools in England (PROMISE).

The aim of Sounds of Intent is to investigate and promote the musical development of children and young people with severe, or profound and multiple learning difficulties ('SLD' or 'PMLD').

The framework of musical development is based on research with three main elements:

  • Observational data of children with profound learning difficulties experiencing or engaging with music have been gathered by expert practitioners through videotape recordings and fieldnotes. These have been analysed for responses or actions that seemed to be representative, exceptional or indicative of attainment or any progress that they believe to be worthy of note. The findings have subsequently been presented to and discussed by the research group, which has met on a termly basis. Emerging ideas have been synthesised by the lead researchers, and used to inform and critique the developmental model which has evolved iteratively in response to new findings and suggestions from the group. As further data have been gathered, these have been analysed in relation to the model, completing a cyclical process of empirical and theoretical work.
  • The analysis and emerging model have been informed by psychological research pertaining to 'typical' early musical development, including listening, producing and responding to music and musical sounds from the period of foetal development through to the first three years of life.
  • The model has been informed also by a theory of music cognition that is being developed by one of the researchers, which suggests that mature engagement with music entails the (typically subconscious) attribution of derivation to its constituent sounds, whereby one is felt to generate another or others through imitation. This applies both to structural understanding (through which music 'makes sense') as well as aesthetic response (which includes music's apparent capacity to express or represent emotion). The theory has been used to predict the order in which the musical abilities it implies are likely to evolve in children (irrespective of their learning difficulties).
  • The team from Roehampton University, Institute of Education and RNIB have just been awarded an additional £73K by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for Sounds of Intent (Phase 2) 'Embedding a new approach to music education for children with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties in UK schools through the development and dissemination of an innovative interactive software package'. This fifteen month project (2009-2011) will enable the research to be widely accessible through the development of a new web-based resource for schools.

project team...

  • Professor Graham Welch, IoE
  • Professor Adam Ockelford, Roehampton University & IoE
  • Sally-Anne Zimmermann, RNIB
  • Angela Vogiatzoglou, Roehampton University
  • Dr Evangelos Himonides, IoE
  • Dr Fern Carter, ex-IoE

selected project public output...

  • Ockelford, A. (2000). Music in the Education of Children with Severe or Profound Learning Difficulties: Issues in Current UK Provision, A New Conceptual Framework and Proposals for Research. Psychology of Music, 28 (2), 197-217.
  • Ockelford, A., Welch, G. F., Zimmermann, S.-A., Himonides, E. (2005). Sounds of Intent: Mapping Musical Behaviours and Development in Profoundly Disabled Children. Proceedings of the Fourth International Research In Music Education Conference (RIME), 5-9 April 2005, University of Exeter.
  • Ockelford, A., Welch, G. F., Zimmermann, S.-A., Himonides, E. (2005). 'Sounds of intent' - mapping, assessing and promoting the musical development of children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Proceedings of "VISION 2005" conference. 4-7 April 2005. London: Royal National Institute of the Blind. Elsevier: International Congress Series, 2005, vol. 1282, pp. 898-902.
  • Ockelford, A., Pring, L., Welch, G. F., &Treffert, D. (2006). Focus on Music: Exploring the musical interests and abilities of blind and partially-sighted children with septo-optic dysplasia. London: Institute of Education/RNIB. [pp71] [ISBN 0 85473 723 5]
  • Welch, G.F. (2006). The musical development and education of young children. In B. Spodek &O. Saracho (Eds.), Handbook of Research on the Education of Young Children. (pp. 251-267). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. [0-8058-4720-0 0-8058-4721-9]
  • Welch, G.F., Ockelford, A., Zimmermann, S-A., Carter, F-C., &Himonides, E. (2006). Sounds of Intent: Initial mapping of musical behaviours and development in profoundly disabled children. In M. Baroni, A.R. Addessi, R. Caterina, &M. Costa. (eds.). Proceedings, 9th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition. (pp. 274-275). Bologna: Bononia University Press, University of Bologna. [ISBN 88-7395-155-4]
  • Welch, G.F., Ockelford, A., Carter, F-C., Zimmermann, S-A., & Himonides, E. (2009). 'Sounds of Intent': Mapping musical behaviour and development in children and young people with complex needs. Psychology of Music, 37(3), 348-370.
  • Sounds of Intent: Mapping musical behaviour and development in children and young people with complex needs. Presentation Slides (Language and Music as Cognitive Systems Conference, Cambridge 11-13 May 2007).
  • Welch, G.F., Ockelford, A., Zimmermann, S-A., &Himonides, E. (2009). Sounds of Intent Project Outcomes. London: International Music Education Research Centre (iMerc) Press.
  • Welch. G. (2009). The power of music in children's development. Powerpoint presentation. Institute of Education, University of London; Wednesday 20 May 2009.
  • Cheng, E., Ockelford, A., Welch, G. (2009). Researching and developing music provision in Special Schools in England for children and young people with complex needs. Australian Journal of Music Education. Vol. 2009(1), 27-48.
  • Welch, G.F., & Ockelford, A. (2010). Music for All. In S. Hallam & A. Creech (Eds.) Music Education in the 21st Century in the United Kingdom: Achievements, analysis and aspirations. (pp36-52). London: Institute of Education.
  • Ockelford, A., & Welch, G.F. (2012). Mapping musical development in learners with the most complex needs: The Sounds of Intent project. In G. McPherson & G. Welch (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Music Education. Vol 2. (pp11-30). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Ockelford, A., & Welch, G.F. (2012). What can musical engagement in children with cognitive impairment tell us about their sense of self? In S.A. O'Neill (Ed.). (2012). Personhood and music learning: Connecting Perspectives and Narratives. (pp216-237). Waterloo, ON: Canadian Music Educators' Association. [ISBN 978-0-9812038-1-2]
  • Ockelford, A., Welch, G.F., Jewell-Gore, L., Cheng, E., Vogiatzoglou, A., & Himonides, E. (2011). Sounds of Intent, Phase 2: Approaches to the quantification music-developmental data pertaining to children with complex needs. European Journal of Special Education. 26(2), 177-199. DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2011.563606
  • Ockelford, A., Welch, G.F., Vogiatzoglou, A., & Himonides, E. (2011). Sonidos de la intenciĆ³n. Pensamientol, Palabra y Obra, 5, 114-120.
  • Vogiatzoglou, A., Ockelford, A., Himonides, E., & Welch, G.F. (2011). Sounds of Intent: Interactive Software to Assess the Musical Development of Children and Young People with Complex Needs. Music and Medicine, 3(3), 189-195. [DOI 10.1177/1943862111403628]
  • Welch, G.F., Himonides, E., Ockelford, A., Vogiatzoglou, A., & Zimmerman, S-A. (2012). Understanding and nurturing musical development in children and young people: the Sounds of Intent project. Proceedings, 24th International Seminar on Research in Music Education. (pp. 247-256). Thessaloniki: University of Macedonia.

project contact details...