Great song. Great band.Source:
Through my experiences using technology in clinical settings I have arrived at two main reasons why I use technology. The first is that it can be an entry point into the music. The second reason is that it has allowed for a way of knowing. Certainly there are several other reasons and applications of technology but these two points are my areas of concern.
Both of these points were experienced during my very first experience trying to use technology in sessions. I was working with a woman with Retts. I was trying to brainstorm on ways that I could include her in the music. How could I allow her to engage musically during our sessions. We learn how to adapt traditional instruments by building up the handles on mallets or by taking away bars on the xylophone, but what could be done with a keyboard?
My first idea in brainstorming was to chop up the pieces of a song in Ableton Live software. Perhaps I could split the song into the intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc. Then each of these pieces could be triggered by a different pad or key on a midi controller. But before I split a song into different pieces, what song does she like? She is non-verbal.
This is where a way of knowing comes into play. How could I find out what song she likes? I decided to load 25 different songs into Ableton Live, one for each key on my midi keyboard controller. Then she could hit the keys on the keyboard to select songs. If she likes the song she would let it play. If she didn’t like the song she could hit another key and another song would play. This worked, however, after counsel from Dr. Susan Hadley, we decided that it was difficult for her to repeat her selection should she choose. This is because her hands were usually clasped.
We decided that I should color code the keys into 3 different color groups. I would limit the number of songs to 3 different songs for the keyboard. This way if she found a song she liked she could repeat her selection. This worked well. I found out that she enjoyed the Dixie Chicks and Coldplay. She did not enjoy Tom Waits.
From these ideas I have begun to think about technology as adaptive equipment and other uses. Now in my sessions you might see someone playing bell sounds with a wii remote and nunchucks that are connected to my computer and Ableton Live. You might see a child improvising on the keyboard that only plays notes of the pentatonic scale. You might see an adolescent creating drum beats on a midi controller. You might see child touching an iPod Touch to trigger and play the next portion of a song. You might see someone creating an interesting arpeggio in a step sequencer on a Novation Launchpad. The ideas and applications of technology just keep coming.
All of these are entry points for people into making music. These are not just toys or tricks to engage people in music. These are the pieces of our culture that are familiar. These are flexible instruments that can be changed and used in many different situations. These are implements that allow us different ways of knowing our clients.