The Soundhouse Music Alliance is a not for profit organisation, with DGR tax deductible status, which has grown over a 30 year period. Its aim has always been to encourage community members to become creators of music rather than passive consumers.
Many key partnerships with schools and cultural organisations, state education authorities and specific provider groups have been forged over this period to broaden the range of programs supported through Soundhouse Music Alliance.
A very significant long term program developed by the Soundhouse Music Alliance has been the Special Access Kit Project using the Banana Keyboard. This was first invented in 1992 to assist those with disabilities to be able to access meaningful music making. The cornerstone was the design of the Banana Keyboard as shown below.
The curved design went through several development stages, but was designed to be able to sit across a wheelchair. The large scale of the keys meant that those without fine motor control are able to produce coordinated musical sounds, and other sounds chosen to suit the activity being undertaken.
The keyboard shown in the picture also allowed switches to be connected to further enhance accessibility. For example, a student without hand movement could have a switch fitted to the headrest of a wheelchair, and thus participate in a music group by triggering the sound of a bass drum, or the bark of a dog at the appropriate time in a sound story.
In the last 4 years, Soundhouse Music Alliance has focussed its energy in supporting other programs which redress disadvantage, and in particular for disadvantage for youths 18 year and younger.
Recent examples have included:
• the rollout of the Musical Futures program, which was also supported by the Australian Music Association and the NAMM foundation grant program. This program works primarily in socio-economically disadvantaged schools who do not have access to traditionally resource heavy music instrumental programs
• seeking to support the further the trialling and implementation of the Young Warriors program, again working with Australian Music Association. This program promotes access to after school activities based on active music making and performance, and uses it as a catalyst to promote greater community engagement in socio-economically challenged areas. Last year’s program also included a trial program of the Young Warriors program working with “Headspace” in the area of youth mental health & wellbeing
The Soundhouse Music Alliance has as its original aim “enjoy, play, compose, & create music.” This stems from 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.
The Soundhouse Music Alliance promotes the right for all to:
• express themselves musically
• learn musical languages and skills
• participate in engaging music programs
independent of their circumstances.