Cripping the Muse: Music & Disability Studies

We are pleased to announce our call for submissions for ‘Cripping the Muse’: A 2-day summit event (funded by the IMR, SEMPRE and The University of Leeds OD&PL and co-sponsored by the Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds) exploring the interfaces between music and disability studies (4th & 5th July 2018, School of Music, University of Leeds, UK).

Researchers in the fields of musicology, music psychology, music technology, music education and music therapy have been researching music and disability for many years but, for the most part, the discourse has predominantly been medical/therapeutic in scope. In contrast, the field of disability studies has focused on moving away from a medicalised, deficit model approach to disability research (i.e. the view that disabled people’s impairments need to be ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’ in order for them to fully function as valued members of society) towards a more critical discourse on the topic which suggests that, whilst individual impairments may indeed cause disabled people real pain, discomfort and/or the need for additional support, the true disabling factors implicit in disability reside within people’s attitudes and an inherently ableist society. It is our view that greater discourse between these two disciplines (which prioritises contributions from disabled people themselves) is needed to foster a collaborative knowledge exchange environment which pushes beyond the current margins of music and disability studies research.

Recently, headway has been made in pulling these two disciplines together via publication of the Oxford Handbook for Music and Disability Studies (2016). However, much research relating to music and disability is still devised and disseminated through a medical lens and few studies actively seek to include the views and perspectives of disabled people. This event aims to constructively critique, challenge and change this.

Day one (4th July): will consist of a research-skills training day aimed at equipping those with an interest in research in music and disability with the tools to devise inclusive research practices. This day will also be of interest to organisations who are looking to develop inclusive practices in consultation and evaluation.

Day two (5th July): will consist of a conference-style event (although we like to think of it as more of a festival of ideas). This event will push the research agenda of the field in new directions by bringing together amateur and professional disabled musicians, the organisations which support them, and those with research interests in disability studies, sociology, psychology, musicology, music education, music technology, music psychology, community music and music therapy.

It is for this second day that we are currently seeking abstract submissions.

We welcome abstract submissions in three main topic areas (potential subtopics are listed below but please feel free to expand or add to these as you see fit):

Music, Disability & Performance

  • Adapted instrumentation
  • Challenging creative ‘norms’
  • Disability & the music industry (issues in equality & diversity)
  • Disabled musicianship as ‘inspiration porn’
  • History of disabled musicianship
  • Music as a means of political protest
  • Music in disability culture
  • Crip musical identity

Music, Disability & Education

  • Inclusive music education (including Further and Higher Music Education)
  • Challenging hegemony in elite music education
  • Disabled musicians’ progression routes from school to work
  • Learning in the community: the role of the community musician

Music, Health, Wellbeing & Disability

  • Music, religion & disability
  • Music therapy
  • Life-long music engagement opportunities for disabled amateur musicians
  • Disabled children’s musical play: fun, therapy or both?

Papers are welcomed from musicians, students, academics and representatives from external organisations. Priority will be given to presentations which represent disabled people’s views and/or experiences.


Presentation formats

Spoken Paper: 30-minute slot per presenter with 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for questions.

Performance Paper: 30-minute slot per presenter with 20 minutes for performance and 10 minutes for questions.

Poster Presentation: A1 poster to be presented in an after-lunch poster session lasting 30 minutes.

Multi-media and diverse format presentation: To ensure presentation formats are as accessible as possible, delegates will also have the option to prepare a multi-media or ‘diverse format’ presentation. These could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Pre-recorded presentations presented via audio and/or video
  • Mixed media presentations

We welcome further suggestions for diverse format presentations and ask that, if you have your own presentation ideas, you state your idea for a diverse format presentation style at the start of your submission, prior to your abstract. The words/time that it takes you to do this will not be counted in the word-count/time-limit for abstract submissions (see submission guidelines below). Maximum 30-minute slot per presenter. Ideally with 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for questions (however this can be flexible).


Submission Guidelines

Written abstracts should be written in English and not exceed 500 words. We are also happy to accept diverse format abstracts. Video and audio abstracts should be no more than 3 minutes long.

Written abstracts should be submitted as an editable Word document.

Please state which presentation format you wish to be considered for at the start of your abstract (not included in the word-count). Additional words/time will be given for those who wish to suggest a new diverse format presentation style (see above).

Please email your submissions to by no later than Tuesday 1st May, 2018

Applicants will be notified of the results of the submission review process by Friday 4th May, 2018



The event will be as accessible as possible. The building has full wheelchair access. There are disabled toilets however these are, unfortunately, not ‘changing space’ toilets. Additional communication support (BSL interpreters, hearing loops etc.) will be made available, if needed. The event will be livestreamed with live closed captioning. A calm space will also be available for those who require or desire access to quiet space.

We have a dedicated Accessibility Officer as part of our conference organisation committee who will be happy to assist with any accessibility queries you may have prior to submission of a presentation abstract. Please contact Gillian Loomes (via email, at – or via Twitter Direct Messaging @LoomesGill) if you wish to discuss access issues.

For further information about the event and to book your place to attend, please visit

You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter @CtMLeeds



Finally, if you would like to attend the conference as a non-presenting delegate, booking is now open. Please click here to book your place.