A promotion graphic for the TiME conference on Connectivity

Reflections from the TiME New and Accessible Music Technology event

As part of the Technology in Music Education (TiME) New and Accessible Music Technology online conference March 2021, Nordoff Robbins music therapist Emily Grimes was guest on the panel to represent our online music therapy work

Reflections from the TiME New and Accessible Music Technology event


Using new and accessible music technology to deliver music therapy

The Technology in Music Education (TiME) – New and Accessible Music Technology conference was organised by TiME founding members David Ward and Richard Llewellyn, and focussed on accessibility of music, through the use of technology, applications and adapted instruments.

I was there to represent Nordoff Robbins and our music therapy work, as well as discussing how we have been able to use technology with our clients, in the past, present and our future plans. I talked about how in the last year alone, our organisation had used many new and different applications, platforms and devices including the trails of new hardware devices such as the Mash Machine, the Sound Orchestra and different midi instruments through Digit Music, as well as discussing our tech collaborations with Bandlab and the Clangers through recordings and live zoom sessions. I also emphasised how important for our clients it was to make connections through music and interact as well as having the opportunity to reach their own potential.

How many times have we wanted our clients to be able to access an instrument, but it unfortunately wasn’t within their physical capabilities? For some clients, it would be amazing to open up their musical world and provide them with an entire orchestra at their fingertips to create and find flow within music that they were able to create independently.

Hearing from the other panellists

Mary Alice Stack, the CEO of Creative United talked about how they are supporting individuals to research and buy adapted instruments for themselves, and how every individual should have the right to access music by the relevant industries reducing the barriers to music.

Tim Yates from Drake Music discussed providing a platform for people to talk about music tech and adapted instruments, and creating community through their DM Labs – something I have yet to visit and am dying to!

Simon Glenister shared his work with young people through Noise Solution, a digital youth work organisation working to create positive experiences through music technology for young people to experience success and enjoyment. He talked about the need to be seen differently by the support network around them and how being seen positively can affect you and your future.

Amy Dickens – an advocate in women in technology – shared her ongoing work around inclusive design in accessible instruments, from their creation to the client using it in performance and what that brings. I have found this recording of a presentation Amy gave. I think it is brilliant and wanted to share it with you!

We also heard from music therapist Irene Lo Coco on the research they are doing at Chiltern Music Therapy Services on how they can use technology with their clients.

Demonstrations of new and accessible music technology

After our introductions and discussions around how we are currently using technology to support the people we work with, we were given a few different demonstrations of some new items that people were working on or are already out there in the world and wanted to bring to our attention.

Liam Cutler demonstrated the Dubler Microphone, a mic and software package that enabled you to use your voice to create synthesised music through a DAW (digital audio workstation e.g. Garage Band, Logic etc) , which lead me to think how some of the clients I had worked with in a neurorehabilitation setting would have loved to explored and experimented with it, creating without barriers.

Sasha from Playtronica demonstrated his Playtron and Touch Me devices, a piece of hardware that allows any object or person to become sound, by connecting them up – you have to see the demonstrations! Having seen this in action before, I thought about how fun this could be for some clients, exploring the idea of play within their music and not being bound by more traditional parameters or adhering to the expected.

Ben showed his latest version of the Skoog – a great piece of kit that explores the use of touch to create sound. The latest version allows users to not only program the soft and squishy cube to have different musical sounds depending on where you touched it, but also allows you to sync it up with Spotify, where it automatically detects and analyses the sounds necessary to play with purpose within the existing song structure. It can still be used with a DAW (digital audio workstation) such as Garage Band or Logic but this extension could definitely help users to have a ‘successful’ experience within music, and helps with the immediacy of being able to use the instrument.

Sam Aaron shared with us his work on musical coding through Sonic Pi – like writing computer coding, but musical coding instead; using computer code to create music. This is free to download, and he shared with us how he has taught young children and teenagers the ability to write their own electronic synthesised music and how it is like learning a new language. Very similar to standard notation and reading music – you can learn to compose using the computer coding and play your creation back.

Lastly, Tim Yates from Drake Music shared with us a video of the Kellycaster – a bespoke electric guitar made for their client John Kelly who was able to demonstrate it beautifully.

What next?

As a result of being a panellist at this amazing event, I have been invited by David Ward to become a consultant for TiME, representing Nordoff Robbins; this will not only involve us being affiliated to TiME on their new website (address coming soon) but will also mean that we will have representation on a new ‘on the ground’ group, that discusses and tests new ideas and kit which could potentially benefit our clients and help to support more people in accessing music through technology.

If you are interested in finding out more about the conference, technology in music or are interested in this area of music therapy please do get in touch by emailing Emily.Grimes@nordoff-robbins.org.uk