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.
Over 100 of these units have been placed in institutions for use by music therapists, and over the years many of these have been rendered unworkable because of software issues. At Soundhouse we have been funding a program to locate and offer software upgrades to make these valuable instruments usable again. The response has been overwhelming and we are working to get this program to fruition.