Improvisation Across Abilities: Adaptive Use

by Pauline Oliveros


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This project seeks at least $15,000 in funding support for three workshops in the Hudson Valley, NY area to educate teachers, therapists, aides and parents in how to use improvisation, drumming and free custom software that we have developed, called Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI), to facilitate and empower musical expression for students with disabilities. Our project seeks to transform the societal assumption about who can play music by dissolving the barriers between ability and disability.

I began this project as a result of conversations with my musician friend and occupational therapist Leaf Miller. Leaf told me about her work with disabilities and wanted my help to develop ways for students with extremely limited voluntary muscular control to play in her drum class at her school. Through Leaf’s request and the students at Abilities First School Inc. in Poughkeepsie NY, I have come to understand that the least possible motion indicates life and musical ability. I have ben deeply moved by the results of this work with children with disabilities.

The AUMI project enables people with both physical and cognitive disabilities to play music. The computer software tracks the movements of the user with a webcam in order to produce sounds and create rhythmic patterns from those movements. There are no invasive devices. The software can be adjusted for the movement abilities of each individual.The software is being used to expand musical expression for children with special needs.

While AUMI software can be used by anyone, the focus has been on working with children who have profound disabilities. In taking these participants as its starting point, the project attempts to make musical improvisation and collaboration accessible to the widest possible range of individuals.

The AUMI software may be downloaded free of charge (in both PC/Mac versions) from the Deep Listening website: Numerous people have downloaded the software and are using it in many parts of the world. In this way we expect to continue to develop the software with the collaboration of a widening community of many users. The software will remain to be free and available to all.

Match Funds are not currently available.

Previous donations matched by:

    • March 02, 2011 Will S. Cameron Community Member

      what a great project! congratulations on getting it funded!

    • February 14, 2011 Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud Community Member

      such an inspiring project! i am spreading the word about this forward thinking project. ayanna

    • February 01, 2011 Josephine Dorado Community Member

      Kudos! AUMI is an amazing project!

    • January 19, 2011 Pauline Oliveros Artist

      To all supporter of Improvisation Across Abilities my deepest thanks. We want to spread the knowledge that we have gained in the past three years in hopes that many more will be encouraged to creative activity, All the best to all of you. PO

    • January 18, 2011 Tom Bickley Community Member

      very exciting! Thank you for this work.

    • December 17, 2010 Pauline Oliveros Artist

      Steve, Thanks very much for your donation and your comments. It means a lot to have your help in spreading the word. The ISME sounds very intriguing. All best regards, PO

    • December 16, 2010 Steve Bull Community Member

      It gives me great pleasure to make a small donation to this project. Happy New Year!

    • December 13, 2010 dillonsc Community Member

      This is a sensational project and resonates very much with ISME's Community Music Activity Commissions work globally. We will spread the word in the community music community, Regards Steve:-)