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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. Soundhouse has 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.

Many of these kits were placed in facilities such as special schools, arts facilities & hospitals, across Australia, and a dozen in international locations. Programs using this kit at Arts Centre Melbourne won the Arts portfolio leadership award in Victoria in 2011.
In order to update software, and make the units wireless, we launched the Special Access Kit Upgrade project to identify and provide these upgrades to a group of facilities keen to be involved. We have shortlisted 12 facilities in the initial group.

Here is your invitation to be involved!
To upgrade Banana Keyboards, each kit will cost $960 – and this will make a huge difference to the engagement in music making for countless kids.

 We are seeking donations from the public and companies to support this project, and would like to provide 3 levels of donations to support our target of :

What your donation will provide
$960 – A complete upgrade of software and hardware for one school or facility
$480 – Half a kit upgrade including either the complete wireless midi system or the batteries and charging system
$120- Provide the Radio Module to allow transmission and receiving of signals from the keyboard to make it Bluetooth compatible (as an example)

Alternately, you may wish to specify another tax deductible amount you would like to donate in support of this worthy project.

You can donate here

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