What is Smile?

Music is a powerful means of self-expression and communication for children with learning difficulties, but they do not always have access to regular, high-quality music provision. The Smile project seeks to address this through empowering special school staff who are not music specialists. This free resource for teachers in special schools contains simple and effective music lesson plans and activity ideas on common curriculum topics. Each lesson plan comes with demo videos and backing track.

How were the Smile resources created?

The overall format of the Smile resource has been designed in response to feedback collected via interviews and questionnaires from staff in special schools across the UK.

The lesson plans and activities themselves have been created by Live Music Now musicians with support from the Smile team. All of the lesson plans and activities in the resource are underpinned by Sounds of Intent.

Ongoing development of the resource

The resources and activities on this site will be expanded over the next few years. If you have ideas for topics or for improvements to the resource, please send us your feedback!

Share feedback

What is Sounds of Intent?

Sounds of Intent is an inclusive model of musical development that sets out how we all progress musically. It is the only model that has sought to understand the musical development of children with the most profound and complex needs, and it is grounded in over two decades of research. This makes Sounds of Intent a robust framework for planning music lessons for children with learning difficulties and assessing their musical progress. Trinity College London now offers awards and certificates in Musical Development to recognise the musical achievements and progress of children with learning difficulties for which pupils are assessed against Sounds of Intent.

Who are the Smile team?

Caroline Waddington-Jones
Lecturer in Music Education, University of York

Karen Irwin
Strategic Director (Children, Young People, Families)
Live Music Now

Adam Ockelford
Professor of Music, University of Roehampton

We are grateful to Smile’s special advisory group of special school staff and music leaders who have been instrumental in steering the project, offering their expert insight and feedback at key stages in the resource’s development:

Jenny Cooper
Adam Featherstone
Sophie Gray
Zoe King
Lois McConnell
Emily Tully