Enabling young people with disabilities to make their own music

On Friday, I visited Lee Holder at The Music Works charity in Gloucester. Lee won one of our ‘I’ve got an idea fund‘ awards at the end of last year. His idea is to use 3D printing and one-on-one experimentation to individualise manual interfaces for severely disabled young people to make their own music.

Lee now has a fabulous new sensory studio at Music Works and he showed me (and even better allowed me to try!) a range of different digital interfaces (see some below). Some of these will work for his students as they are. Others will need major or minor resdesigning or repackaging to work effectively for the particular challenges of each of his young collaborators. That is where the customised design and 3D printing will come into its own.

It was fascinating to experience creating sounds and beats in such different ways .. moving my hands in the air in front of a sensor, pressing and sliding my fingers across different receptive surfaces and manipulating joy sticks. I even tried lying on a specially designed water bed, covering my ears and ‘hearing’ music through the patterns of physical vibration of the water beneath me. The latter is specifically designed for deaf people but people with autism enjoy it too. I certainly would have happily spent an hour or more lying there.

I’m excited that our small fund has enabled Lee to get this experimental project to start happening.

About Alison Kidd

Research Psychologist
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