We are living in a time of Maker Faires, 3D printers, and customized products. It is time for more affordable soprano recorder adaptations!
For me, a successful recorder adaptation must meet the following criteria:
- The instrument tone quality and intonation must be excellent.
- The adaptation must work for people with a variety of physical differences.
- The adaptation must be affordable enough for an elementary music student.
Over the past year, I worked with engineers in California to design an adaptation. While the project did not advance as far as I had hoped, I think their three-key cluster design is an excellent start. The cluster can be operated by one finger (or one limb, or two fingers) and the key layout allows for easy transitions between key combinations.
This design is geared towards those who have one unaffected hand and one hand with a limb difference. The unaffected hand would go on top and cover the thumb hole and the first four holes of the recorder.
As it turns out, some third graders’ pinky fingers are too short to cover the fourth hole. What if there was a key over the fourth hole to bring it closer to the third hole? What about adding a key over the third hole so that the third and fourth holes could potentially be operated by one finger?
I have talked with many music teachers about recorder adaptations, and many wonder if the adaptations would help those with cerebral palsy, poor fine motor skills, and other physical disabilities. I think it is likely that these students would benefit from holes over all of the keys, not just the bottom ones. Here is a potential keyed recorder set-up:
I will be doing research to find people and organizations interested in working with me to create another recorder adaptation. If you know of an instrument maker or an engineer with a background in music who might be interested, please let me know!