Tom Griffiths, Peter Pan and a Skoog

Bring together experts in physics, acoustics, computing and psychology and what do you get? A Skoog! and now Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has one. So what is a Skoog?  It’s a musical instrument disguised as a soft squishy cube which plugs into your computer. It has been programmed to respond to the lightest touch and allows children and adults to play a wide range of instruments without all the slog of practising chords and scales.

With support from Edinburgh University and NESTA (The National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) David Skulina and Ben Schogler set out to make a totally inclusive instrument which could open up the world of music making to young people with learning difficulties, sensory impairments, behavioural issues and autism. It is especially useful for those e with conditions which have affected their manual dexterity. So often if you cannot hold an instrument or control your breathing or fine motor movements, you are destined to spend your life as a listener instead of a performer.

Tom Griffiths, who works with assistive technology at the Hospital for Sick Children won a Skoog in a prize draw held at the BETT exhibition in January, “We are delighted to have a Skoog at GOSH and are sure it will be an invaluable tool in our assessments”, said Tom. “We envisage it providing a lot of fun for our children and young people – and probably the staff, too!”

The Skoog has been extensively trialled with children who have made many recommendations about colours, the design and what they want it to do. It can easily be customised for the needs of even the most disabled child and after just a few minutes staff report an increase in confidence, skill and dexterity.  It looks like it might be party time for some of the Great Ormond Street children.