The Beyond Words project

The Beyond Words project is a collaborative project between Plymouth Institute of Education and Plymouth Music Zone. It is one of only eight funded nationally in 2015 by an Arts Council England Research Grant.

The two-year project is an ethnographic study exploring how learning music helps people whose communication is non-verbal, such as those with dementia, autism and stroke, and how music workers use the unspoken in their practice. As part of the study, carers and families will be interviewed and will also involve teachers, social workers and health practitioners. In addition, participants are invited to participate in visual arts workshop to express their thoughts and feelings about the music sessions.

During the life of the project, there will be two dissemination events: a participative seminar (image gallery below) (27 May 2016) and a final international conference (March 2017). The participative seminar will present interim results to a cross-sectoral audience (practitioners, social workers, educator and participants’ families) and it aims to get cross-sectoral feedback to illuminate results, explore research transferability and share effective inclusion practices across disciplines. The final international conference titled: Privileging the Unspoken in Arts Practice for a Post-human World, will focus on how academics and practitioners can explore the unspoken across all the Arts, using post-human theory. The conference will highlight practical and theoretical innovations derived from the project and how they can be used across sectors. There are travel bursaries available for both events, please contact Claudia Blandon for more details.

Beyond Words conference 2017

Thanks to all who attended, supported and participated in the Beyond Words Conference for making it such a vibrant and powerful event. Professor Jocey Quinn, from the Plymouth Institute of Education, who is leading the Beyond Words project said: 

“The whole ethos of Beyond Words has been to find ways to give those who are regularly excluded from society a voice. This conference focused on that goal, generating a creative and collaborative atmosphere that fostered a series of innovative ideas aimed at helping those people. There are millions of post-verbal people living in the UK, and we hope that developing a better understanding of how they communicate will have a positive impact on them and on society as a whole.”

Beyond Words

Our research partner, Plymouth Music Zone has produced a beautiful short film about the Beyond Words project, directed by award-winning film-maker Amanda Bluglass.

The Beyond Words Project research team

From left to right: Debbie Geraghty - Plymouth Music Zone Executive Director; Karen Abadie, visual artist; Professor Jocey Quinn, Plymouth University Institute of Education; Anna Batson, Plymouth Music Zone, Training and Research Manager; Claudia Blandon, Research Assistant Plymouth University.

We would be delighted to hear from you, feel free to contact us at any time: 

Jocey Quinn
Claudia Blandon

Beyond Words conference 2017 

Privileging the unspoken in arts and communities in a posthuman world

A posthuman world opens up the possibilities of being and belonging. This exciting international, multidisciplinary conference focuses on how communication happens beyond words, how the arts use the unspoken, and how those who face problems communicating with words (such as those with dementia, strokes, autism and learning difficulties) are valued and included across communities.

Find out more information and how to contribute to the conference

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Participative seminar videos

Our research methodology is experimenting using music and visual art to capture people’s thoughts and feelings about the music sessions.

Watch the videos