Wrap It Up!

Some solutions require engineering design and specialists, yet others require nothing more than a trip to the local pharmacy.  In this post, I’d like to share a few adaptations made with Self-Adhesive Bandage Wrap.


This material is reusable, it sticks to itself, it grips well, and it costs about $4 per package.  Not bad for prototype material!

When I was an undergraduate music education student, I took a Percussion Methods class.  Even though I am perfectly capable of holding a snare stick in my right hand, I decided to wrap the stick to my hand.  As such, my fingers didn’t need to squeeze so tightly.  My hand didn’t get tired, and I was able to have the loose, flexible grip I needed to try double stroke rolls and other rudiments.  


This kind of wrap works for individuals missing a hand, as well.  

Mallet Adaptation

Granted, this solution is probably a temporary fix.  Advanced percussionists missing hands often use more high-tech prosthetic devices.  Bandage wrap can be a simple first solution, and therefore I strongly advocate that students missing a hand play with two mallets in elementary music classrooms.  

What else can you do with self-adhesive bandages?  I recently dusted off my violin.  I never used a bow adaptation, but I am wondering if I would have a better bow grip if the frog was wrapped.  Would a comfortable, grippy surface work better for me?  I’ll keep experimenting!


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:

  1. The instrument tone quality and intonation must be excellent.
  2. The adaptation must work for people with a variety of physical differences.
  3. The adaptation must be affordable enough for an elementary music student.

Bottom Cluster

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.

Recorder Adaptation Graphic 2

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:

Recorder Adaptation Graphic 3

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!

If you can’t find a way, you can make one instead!

During the past decade, 3D printing has become much more mainstream.  As a result, it is getting easier for people with disabilities to prototype and create customized adaptations.   

Check out Max, a young drummer:  


Max’s dad, Rich Lehrer, teaches technology at the Brookwood School.  His students create solutions to real life problems.  Both Rich and his students have created adaptations for Max.  Even Max is getting into engineering!

How do they design these adaptations?  Tinkercad.

Tinkercad is a free, user-friendly platform that allows anyone to become an engineer.  You can find resources online to learn how to use the program or you can learn through the experience of making something.  Try it!  

Rich and I hope to make a problem bank of musical instrument adaptations that can be created with 3D printing.  What would you like to see invented?


Another Use for Belts

Belts are useful.  They hold up your pants.  Or, if you need a little extra support, your violin.  

violin belt 2

I learned about this adaptation from Samantha, a fiddle player in California.  When Samantha was twenty-one, she was in a car accident.  Even though she had no major injuries from the accident, her neck hurt playing violin.  She tried to raise up her shoulder rest and use extra pads.  Then she explored using a strap.  Samantha experimented with many straps until she discovered one that worked best: a thin, leather-woven belt.  


Samantha puts the belt around her neck and then fits it around her fiddle.  It allows her to look up, talk, sing, and give instructions to musicians and dancers.  What a great solution!

belt on neck       violin belt
Thanks, Samantha, for sharing!