Gestrument with Kinect is a great way to introduce live performance into music education for children who don’t play an instrument. Music Cornwall has started using this setup in music projects, and found there is an instant appeal, with children’s eyes lighting up as they explore. And the fact that iPads and Kinects are associated with games makes people want to play! The connection between physical gestures and musical phrases gives results that quickly become expressive, but Gestrument is also sophisticated enough to allow the development of genuine skills in music performance. And as a “gateway” activity, it can spark an interest in music which could lead on to learning musical instruments. There are many other possibilities we’re hoping to explore, combining music with dance, visual arts, and other cross-curricular learning.
Music Cornwall is using Gestrument with Kinect in music projects for children with disabilities and special educational needs as part of an Inclusion Project. For children who don’t have the capacity to learn a traditional instrument, music technology can provide a valuable means of self-expression.
Gestrument is a flexible app which can be set up in different ways to suit different abilities. We’ve used it in a simple way for those with more profound disabilities (e.g., translating small or large movements into a melody). The Kinect can be positioned to suit the movements which a student is able to make. As the scale/key of the music can be chosen, Gestrument can be an instrument in a band or ensemble. As different music technology “instruments” appeal to different students, its useful to have a variety of equipment in special needs work. Some respond to the tactile (e.g., switches), some like using the touchscreen on iPad apps, and for some using the Kinect and Gestrument is what reveals the performing musician in them.
It can also be set up in much more complex ways to include performances using multiple instruments, patterns, and the more advanced features, to explore harmony, texture, and improvisation. Presets can be created to suit the musical tastes and abilities of each student. There is a lot of potential for using Gestrument in music education, and it will be interesting to see how others explore this potential.