How can brass instruments be played by one-handed musicians?
This product design project set out to create a range of apparatus to make standard brass band instruments playable by individuals without the use of one of their arms or hands, opening up the world of music to disabled musicians. The project was conducted as a collaboration between MERU and The OHMI Trust.
Research was undertaken with Stentor Music to establish the dimensions, workings and maintenance requirements for their entire range of brass instruments. Standardised fixing points were identified where the different instruments could be touched or clamped without effecting the quality of their sound. A focus groups of brass musicians helped identify playing postures, habits and techniques which needed to be considered in the design of the apparatus. Disabled musicians were observed setting up apparatus to support their playing, such as in the video below, where Felix Klieser sets up his custom-made Horn stand.
A range of 3D printed prototypes, metal brackets and ready-made music stands were used to fix instruments in place and gather feedback from musicians in a local brass band to refine the designs and ensure setup, movement and playing posture were compromised as little as possible. Prototypes were then styled to either look discrete and minimalist or bright and playful to suit the visual preferences of both professionals and children learning to play.
A modular range of brackets and clips were designed and manufactured to support the various weights and shapes of brass instruments depending on their make and model. Two of the designs (the Trombone stand and the Euphonium stand) received an ‘Enabling Design Award’ by the One Handed Musical Instrument Trust (OHMI) at their inaugural music conference.
For further information about this project, please contact Cara Shaw