The Musical Instruments
Instruments for disabled persons
The Snake has been developped with support from SIH (Statens Institut för Handikappfrågor i skolan), a Swedish organisation for youth and schoolchildren with some disability. They supported it because it is extremely easy to play and handle, and very durable, and because of that specially suited for people with some kinds of handicap. Of course, everyone has the right to feel the pleasure and thrill of making one's own music. Soundwell's idea is to take away practical obstacles that stand between the person and the music. And as you make your music, you practice your mouth's mobility, your breath and your ability to communicate, all which of course is an extra advantage. So The Snake is a tool for having fun and getting a musical experience as well as for physical and mental development.
It is only needed a very faint stream of air to make the flute sound, and you can get a number of notes blowing very slowly. Since The Snake works without finger holes, there is no need for complicated fingerings to play it. In fact there is no need for fingering at all. If your hearing is reduced, you can unwind the flute and hold the lower end to your ear as you play. In that way you maximize your ability to sense the vibrations and the air stream. And in fact, you can use it even if you can't move at all, not even the mouth. How? You can play it with the nose, since the mouthpiece fits very well covering a nostril.
If you have some disability where you use your mouth a lot, as a compensation for other functions, The Snake is also ideal. Then you can use your well practised mouth mobility to pick out the more advanced parts of the flute's tone stock, and learn to master them. In this way, the Snake is particularly siutable if you are good at blowing or not so good at blowing!
The One hand recorder is of course ideal if you are using just one hand, with good mobility. With that flute you get an ordinary "piano scale".
The Raft, with its wide tone bars and robust construction, ia also an ideal instrument for people with certain kinds of disabilities. Especially the pentatonic (five tone scale) version is very suitable for a rhythmical improvisation where you can concentrate on the expression and on the communication with the other players. The fact that you play the same instrument makes it easier to play together, and develop the ability to communicate. The new version with legs is constructed to be easy to play from a wheel chair.
If you have a work helping disabled people with their daily life and development, making musik is a very good tool, and The Snake and The Raft are specially recommended. The thing is to make use of spontaneity and lust to make sounds, within the one you help and within oneself. Making one's music is a personal thing, and if you demand that it should sound in a special way, the risk is that you lose your inspiration. That goes for demands on yourself as well as demands on others. You have to allow what comes out, and go on from there all the time.
Instruments for children
All children are musicians. With their spontaneous lust for trying and playing with sounds, they have something important "for free", when it comes to develop in music making. There are good resons to try to preserve that ability, when the demands of perfection and achievment from the grown-up world come close. Yes, they need help to develop their listening and sense of structure, but all to often the confrontations with the ambitions of their grown-ups lead to a lost of interest and lust, and they end up as grown-ups who consider themselves "unmusical".
Soundwell's instruments have been developped during years of making music with children and grown-ups in different situations. The instruments are specially suited for childrens spontaneous ways of approaching music. The are durable and allow the user to try them freely. As a grown-up you don't have to watch over fragile instruments. . And because it looks fun and sounds fun. The flute is of course primarily an instrument for improvisation, which allows the spontaneous expressions of children to come through. And of course, they look and feel fun to handle. For example, it is fun and impressive to see how rather small children can make a sound dialogue together, if you give them an instrument each. Grown-ups actually have a lot to learn from childrens easy-going way to express themself with music. At the same time we grown-ups can stimulate them to listen to what they are doing, each one and together, as we teach them songs and other things we know.
Instruments for those who never got started - or gave up
It is a very common thing, that people actually would like to be able to make some music now and then, but for some reason never get to it. You feel there is a high barrier to cross only to try a little blowing into a flute or play around a little with a piano. All to many people have had some deterrent experience in their life, that has pushed back the lust to get into music making. At school, from your parents or from your own self-censuring.
Even to take a few steps in that case can seem as an overwhelming task. But yet, that is the only way to learn anything, you have to put up with that you don't get it exactly the way you want in the beginning. And when it comes to music, that is particularly true. And you can actually have a lot of fun if you let your music be where it is, while you let it improve.
By now Soundwell's instruments have been extensively used by people who count themselves to this "unmusical" group. And it works fine. As for the flutes, the tones come very easily - they play almost by themselves. You mostly have to "hang on". And if you have someone to accompany on a guitar or a piano, it usually sounds surprisingly good even the first time. You can basically skip the feared period of plodding and sounding bad. And then it can only become better and better, for there is a lot to learn and discover with The Snake and The Stick.
And for The Raft, it is really something to stick to and keep together a little group, or for yourself to drum away, while you get a melodious an nice sound, wherever you play it (especially with the pentatonic - 5 tone scale - version).
Instruments for the friends of sound
A typical "target group" for this type of instrument, that offers new sounds to discover and master , is different kinds of professionals in sound and music. For example, modern classical composers from around the world have been fascinated with the new sounds that our simple instruments could produce. Jazz- and rock musicians are also usually interested in enlarging their world of sound.
The Snake and The Stick are a challenge for the experienced, with all their possibilities. "A minute to learn, a lifetime to master." And for those who want to use an overtone flute with a band or an orchestra, the Multiflute offers the possibility to play in all keys. The One hand recorder is useful for those who want to develop the skill of playing two instruments simultaneuosly. The Raft in any of its two versions, can be used to enhance the sound of any kind of orchestra. Various kinds of world music or why not modern "slowly changing" music could for example make good use of these big xylophones.
Instruments for teachers and helpers
If your job is to support and teach children, disabled persons or the "unmusical" to get around in the world of sound, Soundwell's instruments are perfect tools. The basics of music come very close, both the basics within ourselves and within the tones we use. And the durability of the instruments facilitate a concentration on the music itself. The instrumens are particularly good to use in a common musical improvisation, in the form of little sound games or small compositions, using rhythmical patterns etc. Of course you can also use them for traditional arrangments of various kinds. If you gather around The Raft, you get a tight situation, that facilitates listening and cooperation. Moreover, the flutes are excellent if you want to tell about the construction of tones and scales and the physical background of the musical intervals. That is because they give the pure natural harmonic scale.
Otherwise and foremost, the most important thing for teachers to care about seems to be: See to it that you have fun yourself, find ways of teaching where there is room for you to express yourself. (Since the silent messages always get heard, and your lust for making music will be contagious.)
If you feel you don't fit into any of the categories mentioned above - well, you are welcome to try The Snake , The Stick, The Multiflute and The Raft anyway!