I’ve been a Soundbeam user for the best part of 20 years and have facilitated music sessions across the spectrum of physical and sensory learning challenges, and I have to say that Soundbeam 6 is a gamechanger.
Most impressive is the immediacy of the device - It’s quick. Believe me when I say you can be ready to deliver a session in the time it takes the unit to boot up. I was able to put it to work in a group performance session without referring to the manual; such is the simplicity of the instrument. The flexibility of the wireless switches further extend its capabilities and there’s even the option to use my existing Big Mac and Buddy switches. I also love the fact that it’s so self-contained with a built-in audio engine and amplifier. The touch screen works wonders allowing me to set-up the beams and switch parameters on the fly and to audition each controller’s sound without them being physically connected to the unit. I have also found the video playback facility to be useful and have started to create my own library of recorded percussion sounds, which I intend to assign to the wireless switches along with an image of each instrument. Once the switch is played the image will be displayed on an external TV monitor using the HDMI output. There are a lot of creative possibilities to explore with this option.
I’ve always been a big fan of the Soundbeam systems in the way they provide facilitators with additional tools to break down the barriers to accessing music in a variety of context. The Soundbeam 6 continues to do just that and more. There simply isn’t anything out there like it.
Pathway Teacher (Music)
THANK YOU so much for the prompt delivery of the Soundbeam 6 - it is an absolute JOY to use
Media and Music Technology subject co-ordinator
"Thanks for taking the time to show me the Soundbeam 6, really enjoyable to see... it's incredible, amazing work"
Luke Turner - Associate musician, Drake Music.
I’ve used Soundbeam for several projects in SEN settings; it’s proved very popular with both staff and students. It allows students to engage and create music on their own terms; exploring new sound fields, instruments and musical genres in a safe space. Students previously labelled as ‘non musical’ or unable to access music because of sensory difficulties have shown great creativity; improvising, arranging and conducting, and have loved every minute!
Leicestershire Schools Music Service
"When it really comes together you can almost forget that you’re in a wheelchair, and that is the most marvellous thing on the planet.
I can forget about all the junk that I have to live with....There is always a gap between what goes into my head and my physical ability to get my body to behave itself, but with Soundbeam I don’t have to ask anybody for any help, I don’t have to justify the kind of music I’m getting, I can just enjoy it....What I appreciate most is the absolute freedom it gives me, I can make it work with very little effort, and the level of relaxation and comfort that it gives me is absolutely fantastic.
It’s magic, if I could bottle it - I would"
Chris Lees, Soundbeam musician
"Soundbeam has played a major role in helping students realise their fullest potential. They are multi-handicapped with visual impairments, aged 5-21 years with cognitive levels of 1 month - 5 years.. In the past they were constantly being given hand over hand assistance to hold and shake a variety of percussion instruments. Now with the help of Soundbeam students are independently making music....students whose movements are slow and slight are instantly rewarded...as they become more confident they begin to interact and take more chances, and to explore more and more the environment around them..."
Astrid Galipeau, Music Therapist, New York State School for the Blind
"Having discovered a sound or sound-pattern that the youngster reacts to...the next stage...is to promote an awareness in the child that he or she can produce it as a result of his or her own efforts. One way is to repeatedly guide the pupil in making the necessary movement, in the hope that the realisation will eventually dawn that action and sound are linked - that a basic notion of cause and effect will be established - the motivation being partly the creation of a pleasurable aural stimulus and partly, perhaps, an apprehension of the fact that by dint of one's own efforts things can happen.......Any sound or succession of sounds can be initiated by virtually any change of bodily state or position...(the) imperceptible ultrasonic ray can be set up to trigger symphonies of sound from movements as small as the twitching of a finger. Hence, rather than imposing a new movement upon a child, one could start by using one with which he or she is already familiar, and which could be modified gradually in the sessions which follow, so that little by little the youngster has to work harder to achieve his or her desired end. Moreover, instead of a given movement merely initiating a sound, the characteristics of the former could define those of the latter. So a rapid sweep of the arm could cause cascades of notes across a wide pitch band, whereas a more calculated wave could result in a measured scale over a more restricted range. What a powerful means for transforming certain stereotypical behaviours into something more productive!"
Adam Ockelford, 'Music and Visually Impaired Children', RNIB.
"Soundbeam is an instrument which has revolutionised music-making.... ALL students moving within the beam are composing and playing live music instantaneously.....On entering the beam, individuals are given the unique power to create qualities of sound which could otherwise only be realised by an accomplished musician....'Flick a switch' and our liberated, empowered students are asserting their creativity, producing eloquent duets which are so profoundly dinosaurs or waterfalls that the creation is frankly impossible to absorb. Within the beam I have seen a man become a butterfly and heard the fragile, delicate vibrations of his hand movements translated to perfection in harp and pipe music. I have witnessed his lack of skills as a musician transcended by the beam...... I have seen...many couples duet in a harmony that a year ago was beyond my dreams...."
Penny Sanderson, Animateur.
"...Such pupils lack awareness of cause and effect; they are not aware of being able to make things happen. They are passive. Soundbeam can give them the first glimmering of understanding that they can achieve something by their own physical efforts. As their preferences develop, the musical reward can easily be altered...Each time the pupil moves in a certain way, the musical reward comes about. She can control when the music happens and make it quicker or slower. She can have more of it or none of it. She comes to be the cause of effects which she likes. She will play more and laugh and enjoy doing it herself. Soundbeam helps develop mental mapping and muscle memory for those who are not aware enough to receive all the normal signals...this is at the heart of what Soundbeam can do as well as being fun."
Roger Wilson-Hinds, Special Needs and Technology consultant.
"...what a pleasure it's been!...so much MORE like a musical instrument than before...I found it EASY to set up...congratulations are definitely in order."
Dr Tim Anderson, Technology Manager, Drake Music Project
".. Soundbeam has been instrumental in breaking down the barriers between this client and carers - interaction coming through the medium of music"
Graham Dearden, Maidstone Priority Care Trust
"Proved to be an excellent motivator"
Wendy McGee, Music Therapist, Royal Hospital for Neurodisability, Putney
"... Mark has completely changed since he's been working with Soundbeam. He now has great confidence and increased physical activity. He wants to communicate. I think it has unlocked him"
David Jackson, teacher and musician
"The EMS Soundbeam is so invaluable...it gives even the profoundly handicapped child scope for exploration...an excellent example of technology enabling greater equality of access and expression..
Dr Phil Ellis, University of Warwick
"...she'd never done this before...(it) took terrific control and terrific balance, but she was so motivated by the sound....that she was able to sustain the movement, which was fantastic..... It's very versatile, it's lightweight, it can be used in a small room, or in a hall, so you can run in and out of it and have large movement activities...It gives access to a whole world of music making, awareness and pleasure"
Sally Silverman, Avon Service for Special Educational Needs
"One of the wonderful things about the beam is that you can fine-focus it, right down to the movement of a finger, so that even with people who are almost totally immobile, they'll produce some sound... I hope I can then use that response and transfer it into other activities..."
Andy Hicks, Baytree SLD School, Avon
"You've got a lifetime of learning how to play it, how to write compositions, how to learn your own movements"
Andy Hunt, inventor of MIDIGRID, York University
I'd always thought of myself as a frustrated musician, and this allows me to express myself musically
Trevor Bath, Musician
"One of the most exciting and stimulating tools we have worked with...drawing people out of themselves and achieving creativity beyond the apparent limits of disability. Soundbeam turns musicians into dancers and choreographers into composers. The Drake Research Project is enthusiastic about this innovative instrument"
Andrew Cleaton, Drake Research Project
his actual condition is degenerative, but that doesn't stop us hoping for very positive things. He quickly learned that he had control….he was laughing and smiling and chuckling, and it was just wonderful.
Joyce Hudson, Headteacher, Lambert School, Stratford on Avon, UK
"patients can see the progress they are making by hearing musical sounds when they move in the correct motion. The sound helps guide and rehabilitate them"
Concetta Tomaino, Director of Music Therapy, Beth Abraham Hospital, New York.