Music-making for children with disability
Banana Keyboards and iPad Technology
A very significant long term program 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. The cornerstone was the design of the Banana Keyboard as shown below.
Many programs and projects using this technology have been developed by music therapists, teachers & aides in order to enrich the lives of those who would otherwise be unable to participate fully in music programs. Some of these have won Arts Portfolio leadership awards.
More recent technological advances have seen a significant increase in its capability and ease of use. These include:
- The ability to use an iPad to control the sounds using a program called Thumb Jam
- The addition of Bluetooth wireless connectivity with the iPad, making it much easier to use, and less susceptible to cable damage
- The possibility of installing rechargeable battery packs to make its operation completely wireless.
Fifteen locations using the Banana Keyboard have been identified to receive these upgraded Special Access Kits, and training has been delivered to support their use. This has been made possible through the generous support of Yamaha Australia, supplying the Bluetooth wireless midi adapters, and from SMA funds supplying the battery packs.
There has been considerable interest shown by music therapists in other locations to expand the rollout of Special Access Kits, together with the wireless and battery upgrades.
We are currently identifying resources for a second round rollout, and will be seeking industry and donor support to enable this to take place. It is anticipated that another 12 facilities could be supported for a total cost of approximately $2500.
Chairman, Soundhouse Music Alliance
Elliot Playing the Banana Keyboard.
Hassain Playing the Banana Keyboard.
Music For All Australia (operated by Soundhouse Music Alliance - a registered charity with DGR status) has a belief that music-making is fundamental to the development of young people, and that its impacts span intellectual and skills development, alongside cultural awareness and well-being, to name a few.
Music For All promotes the right for all to:
- express themselves musically
- learn musical languages and skills
- participate in engaging music programs independent of their circumstances.