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About AMPs: How it Started

Electric Keyboard
Acoustic Guitar
Muscal Prosthesis
Electronic Keyboard
Guitar
Musical Prosthesis
It can be daunting to play some musical instruments. There needed to a straight forward way of engaging people with music (for fun or therapy). This would in turn make it more accessible.The answer is a musical prosthesis (inspired by the 2012 Paralympics).
I've enjoyed playing music over many years. Back in in 2012 while overseeing contracts in the health and social care sectors I identified an issue .Various day centres had instruments sitting around not being played.
The people attending these centres had various impairments, either cognitive or physical abilities. As an amateur musician I felt it a real shame that the complexity instruments denied access to them for personal recreation and enjoyment.

Magee [2014] identified a range of inhibitors to using assistive music technology:-

  • Expensive
  • High learning curves
  • Not very portable
AMP's overcomes these issues with the "Musical Prosthesis Concept". I'm calling these devices "Squawk-boxes" for the time being.

Where We Are Going

KISS: Keep is simple (say). A feature is having a easy learning curve for both user and carer or support worker.

A musical prosthesis

The solution to this lack of accessibility came to me in a flash of inspiration after watching the Paralympics. This solution being to devise a "musical prosthesis".
This initially took the form of an adapter that could be plugged into a MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) enabled electronic keyboard. This device could play either two percussion sounds and up to four harmonic chords. A pair of rotary switches on the other side of the box gave a range of instruments.
Carrying around the adapter, a keyboard, various pedals and switches, an amplifier and a guitar proved to be a bit of of a chore .Luckily the rapid development of microelectronics allied with competitive pricing means everything can now all be contained in single portable box (See Projects).
Arduino Uno

Plus

Music Sheild

Equals

NoteDuino
An Arduino micro controller   A sparkfun music synthesizer   I call it a Noteduino
Since then I have additional feedback that the Squawk-boxes could also have a therapeutic effect e.g. in gait training or improving muscle function after an accident. This therapeutic area is one I'm seeking a more formal link to do field trials.

Contact:contact@accessiblemusic.org.uk

I am currently looking for a collaborator to support field trials in the area of stroke recovery / rehabilitation.

Me

Philip Catterall In the1980s, I designed and developed training courses to help convert communication engineers from analogue to the new digital systems and later was responsible for the design and development of corporate scale training, pricing and billing systems. My more recent work on systems and contract management in health and social care has steered me in the direction of using cheap and powerful 21st century technology to find ways of making music accessible for people with disabilities.

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