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North East Community Project Opens Up Music-Making To Disabled People

Mike Lawson • News • February 29, 2016

Creativity and confidence of disabled people in the North is being boosted by a community project which helps everyone to get involved in music.

Based in Byker, Newcastle, the Pool of Sound is a unique project which opens up the world of music making to people with learning and complex physical disabilities.

Now in its tenth year, the project provides specialised equipment and staff to help people who might otherwise find themselves excluded from the world of music and performance.

In the Pool of Sound studio, people with disabilities can rehearse, perform and even record their own music, and get the chance to produce their own CDs.

The studio even provides advanced Soundbeam technology which makes performing possible for those with physical disabilities which would ordinarily prevent them from even holding an instrument.

Soundbeam uses ultrasonic sensor technology to enable people to express themselves through music without having to pick up an instrument. When physical movement breaks the beam, the information is translated into digitally generated sound in any chosen style.

Brian Wilkinson, 47, works for Pool of Sound and organises the drop in band.

He said: “The whole idea is to make accessible live music sessions for people with disabilities. It’s somewhere people can socialise, and it’s an enjoyable music session.

“Nobody is going to be judging anybody on their ability — it’s just a bit of fun.”

Sound can be produced by the smallest of movements: a twitch of the finger, head or even an eyelid can trigger sequences of sound.

The Pool of Sound project is run by North East charity the Edward Lloyd Trust, which has been helping people with learning disabilities to live independent, fulfilling lives for more than 25 years.

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