Serious play at SoundLab with Ableton, Mogees and the AC Sabre

As you’re probably aware I’ve been involved with Heart n Soul and their SoundLab project for some time now. I help to pull together events like the one you can see above. This was a SoundLab Play Space event where we bring together technology and people with learning disabilities to see how well a small handful of technologies work for us.

It’s a format we’ve been experimenting with this year, and I have to say it really is taking off now. But not just for us at Heart n Soul and for the technology companies we’re working with. We’re hearing from more and more people who are interested in working with us and understanding how to improve accessibility in music technology.

In the session you can see above, which was at the end of June we worked with:

  • Ableton – Using Push
  • Mogees – Using their sensor and app
  • Air-Craft – Experimenting with the upcoming AC Sabre app

At these sessions we aim to only have two or three companies per session and that seems to work well for everyone involved and means that just about everyone gets to test just about everything.

The most important thing at these events is to make sure that everyone has fun, but as part of having fun we spend some serious time in understanding these technologies and finding out what works for our participants and in making some often very useful suggestions into how they could be made better. It’s that element that works really well for the technology companies who are involved with us, and we already have a list of people who want to work with us in the future.

So what is ‘Serious Play’?

Well, in the context of these events it’s a whole range ofthings, including being able to mix having fun, being creative, understanding new technology and how it can be used with testing and providing useful feedback. Yep, there’s a lot in there. It isn’t an easy balance to strike, but it’s one that I think we manage very well.

But why do it?

You may be wondering this? It’s a good question. The reason stems for a very firm belief that music technology is for everyone, that making music is for everyone, and that making music should be as accessible as possible. I talked a lot about that in the interview I did with Marc Weidenbaum last year, which you can find here if you’re interested.

Heart n Soul’s SoundLab events are all about exploring accessibility and helping to find ways to enable creative vision through better technology. Often the difference between something that is very accessible and something that isn’t is only a tiny shift, often something very easy to achieve and yet not alway obvious. That’s why we do this, we try and show how to make technologies more accessible.

We’re at the start of this journey in many ways, and there’s a long way to go to perfect this process. The only way to understand how to make music technology more accessible is to work with it regularly and continually refine and explore the process of uncovering what works and what doesn’t. That’s what we’re doing and will continue to do to make music more accessible for everyone.

That’s the plan. If you’d like to help us, be a part of it, or just give us a shout out, then I’d love to hear from you.


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