Custom adapted wind instrumentsNov 17 07:01
Don’t give up on playing your flute, clarinet or trumpet just yet. Do you have missing fingers or limited muscle movement? Maarten Visser, an instrument maker from Amsterdam, has made it his life’s work to adapt wind instruments for people with disabilities.
His business is called Flute Lab (love the name) and what he‘s doing is unprecedented. He’ll take your instrument and modify it to your specific needs. Maarten has adapted hundreds of wind instruments, including flutes of course, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, trumpets, saxophones and recorders.
If you visit his site, you can read stories (and see pics) of adaptations he’s done for past clients. It’s quite impressive! I’ve seen a lot of instrument adaptations in my day - drum sets made workable for paras, quads playing dulcimers using quad cuffs, quads playing the guitar by putting it on their laps (not as fun, but hey, they’re still playing), but I’ve yet to see adapted wind instruments until now.
One thing Maarten does well is create completely unique mouthpieces. For the flute, he created a Swan Neck headjoint that allows it be played at a lower angle (easier for those with neck issues) and he created a vertical headjoint so flutes can be played vertically like a clarinet. Very cool!
Among some of his standout adaptations includes (for a flute again) creating a D/bD key and porting a C and #C to the left pinky for a girl with a disfigured hand. He also moved the keys on another flute quite extensively for a woman with a brain injury, who could only play with her right hand. And for the saxophone, he made it possible for a man with two fingers on one hand to still play.
If you have some hand movement, and think these adaptations may make it possible for you to play again, definitely check out Maarten’s site below.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.