Update of Special Access Kits or Banana Keyboards brings music making to children with disability

A very significant long-term program for Soundhouse Music Alliance and Music for All has been the Special Access Kit Project using the Banana Keyboard .This was first invented in 1992 to assist children with disability to access meaningful music-making.

A key project has been to identify locations of banana keyboards and offer upgrades to enable this technology to be utilised. This year in 2023 upgrades have been provided to:

  • The University of Melbourne, for use in Melbourne Youth Orchestra’s Adaptive Music Program,
  • Belmore School
  • Dandenong Valley Special Developmental School
  • Western University Sydney
  • Giant Steps Sydney – a school for children with autism
  • The Sydney Conservatorium
  • Resourced Music Therapy (a music therapy practise in Western Sydney)

Dr Anthea Skinner, a researcher at the University of Melbourne who has utilised the banana keyboard as part of the Adaptive Music Bridging Program (Melbourne Youth Orchestra), said “We’ve been putting the banana keyboard to very good use. We have a student with cerebral palsy who has been playing it with her feet”.

A recent recipient of the upgrade, Kate Jemison, the music therapist at Dandenong Valley SDS, said “We have a banana keyboard that has not been used in years, but I would love to get it up and running again. We have two full time music therapists, so it would get a lot of use”.    

Another recent recipient Dr Allison Fuller said “I head up the Master of Creative Music Therapy at WSU, and one of my key teaching areas is on technology. I would desperately love to have a Banana Keyboard here (even better if upgraded) to use with our Music Therapy students during our technology teaching weeks. It would also be great to wrap some research around how we use them”.  

SoundHouse Music Alliance is continuing to search for banana keyboards which are no longer in use, so that these can be upgraded and reallocated. We are keen for people to benefit from accessible music making through the use of this technology.

Expressions of interest or offers of assistance are welcome, please contact info@sounhouse.org.au


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