School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

news menu

Latest News


EECS student comes up trumps for one-handed musicians

EECS student comes up trumps for one-handed musicians

Media and Arts Technology (MAT) student Callum Goddard spent last summer working with The One-handed Musical Instrument Trust (OHMI) towards solving the difficulty of operating the trumpet tuning valves with only one hand.

Each year, a student on our MAT programme is chosen to work with the OHMI Trust to develop musical instruments that can be played without the use of one hand and arm.

The OHMI Trust’s objective is to remove the barriers to music-making faced by the physically disabled. There is currently no orchestral instrument that can be played without two fully functioning hands and arms. This denies unlimited participation in musical life to those with congenital disabilities and amputees, as well as the millions who may have been injured, suffered a stroke or developed arthritis. The primary obstacle is the absence of suitable instruments.

Here Callum tells the story of his experiences:

“OHMI kindly supplied a trumpet to be experimented on and modified as well as supporting development through their competition. The trumpet itself uses two linear voice coil motors, mounted via laser cut parts, to move the third valve slide of the trumpet. The use of a foot pedal allows for fine control over the third slide movement, and the speed the motors are able to move at can allow for extended techniques such as slide vibrato - if a player desired to do so - as well as fully enabling typical slide use. The project is currently being refined with upgraded electronics and modified motor mounts to allow the trumpet to be robust enough for general playing settings and not just in the electronics lab!”

Helen Rowell is next to pick up the MAT placement mantle. Here she tells of her aspirations for the project this summer:   

“I am working with OHMI Trust as part of the Media and Arts Technology PhD programme at Queen Mary University of London. As a music technologist with a background in orchestral percussion, working with OHMI appealed to me because of their focus in allowing the full virtuosic and resonant musical spectrum of an instrument to be unlocked for disabled performers. For me the technology is secondary to this. I hope to achieve knowledge and insight enough to design adaptations for a one handed percussionist to experience the satisfaction of creating full impact with such a physical instrument group. Focusing on timpani drums initially, my hope is that the research will open up potential for many other percussion instruments to be played with the same flare and control as an able bodied performer.”

Read more about the OHMI Trust

CATEGORY: Students Research

Return to top