Between 2003 and 2005 The Tapestry Partnership engaged in extensive consultation at a grass roots level, and identified music as a tool for improving learning engagement in children with profound physical and learning challenges. In collaboration with NESTA and The University of Edinburgh the decision was taken to design and create a new musical instrument with 3 main objectives, entirely new to music and lifelong learning:
- a universal interface to sense fine or limited movements of the body, to make the instrument available to people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.
- a way of understanding and interpreting the musical meaning and expressivity of movement.
- a way of communicating this meaning and expressivity to a new, flexible and beautiful source of musical sound, offering the opportunity for learning, progression and profound creativity.
In autumn 2006 research at the University of Edinburgh began in earnest as Doctors David Skulina (Physics/Music) and Ben Schogler
(Psychology/Music) joined an academic team led by Professors Murray Campbell, Dave Lee and Nigel Osborne MBE. Over the next two years, a period of creative action research in Scottish schools rooted real interest and anticipation of just what the instrument could be. By early 2008 the project realised its goal of producing a prototype instrument that demonstrated the use of accessible expressive control over real sounding instruments.
As the initial phase of the project drew to a close, and as academic funding avenues continued to draw a blank, Doctors Skulina and Schogler faced the difficult decision to either abandon the project altogether and seek employment elsewhere, or to make a leap of faith into the unknown and form a company. With no business experience between them, and with little to hint at the long and arduous road ahead, the pair made the decision to commit to the project in around 5 seconds flat.
A question of heart ruling the head, you might say.
Luckily, their heads soon caught up. A difficult 18 months followed during which product development was forced to take a back seat to business planning as the team geared up for commercial life and a series of "dragon's den" style investor presentations. With support from friends, colleagues, schools, business mentors and a legal team to die for, the pair finally raised the investment they required to get Skoogmusic off the ground in early 2010.
Keep watching this space.