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Case 2
Isobel Rhind Centre

This document provides an in depth report for 2 clients at the Isobel Rhind Centre. At the Isobel Rhind Centre, the researcher engaged with a total of 25 clients in one-to-one sessions. Sessions were less about sharing and cooperation and focussed more on the development of individual skills. The clients were selected because of their uniqueness and the researcher’s personal interest in their development. It should be noted that no participant reacted adversely to the Skoog.

For ease of explanation the following case study and discussion have been written from a first-person perspective with the names of all participants being changed for their protection.

The Isobel Rhind Centre provide a range of activities to cater for individuals with a variety of disabilities and needs. Staff members were present throughout all sessions and, in interviews, acknowledged the benefits of music:

...(music) can allow the service users to integrate and enjoy themselves, smile and have a common ground with most other people. It just allows more interaction"

(Isobel Rhind Centre, 2010)



Jamie has Down’s Syndrome, cannot verbalise and lacks motivation. He usually sits in a chair in his room and either watches television or draws without acknowledging the presence of others. Staff normally focus on getting Jamie to leave his seat and walk to activities but, in our first one-to-one, I played the Skoog myself, hoping that he would respond to the sounds. While Jamie occasionally looked towards me, he did not seem interested in using the Skoog and continued to draw.


When Jamie was given the Skoog in our second session, he pressed the panels shyly and smiled at me as I cycled through the sounds. Jamie clearly understood the cause-and-effect relationship between the Skoog and the sound.    He seemed to enjoy the texture of the instrument and, when the session was over, he shook my hand, smiled and returned to his seat.


In the hope that Jamie would come with me to the music room, I visited him without the Skoog in the third session. However, while Jamie seemed to recognise me, he once again remained seated. Later, when the Skoog was brought into the room, Jamie again showed little interest. By the final sessions, staff had succeeded in getting Jamie to leave his seat with a camera to take photographs of objects, people and places. Developing this, I asked Jamie to take photographs of the Skoog and he followed me to the music room.    Jamie took several photographs before pressing the Skoog’s top panel to play a number of sounds. When the drum sound was selected, Jamie seemed to become more interested in the Skoog and I joined in by playing The Name Song on guitar. Jamie continued to play the Skoog and, to my surprise, picked up a harmonica. Still playing the Skoog with one hand, Jamie held the harmonica to his mouth and began blowing, sliding it back and forward in his mouth when he heard a chord change.


I used my laptop to record the session and we continued to play together for 15 minutes. When the music came to a natural end, Jamie stopped playing and left the room. The staff commented on successfully getting Jamie to leave his room and engage in a long session of self-expression and noted that he had never before performed so productively. The recording was played back to Jamie who smiled and gestured with a ‘thumbs up.’ It is hoped that staff will utilise Jamie’s camera and the recording to stimulate him to participate in other musical and non-musical activities.



Ross has full mobility and walks routinely between two doors in the centre, turning the handles and smiling but has no apparent communication skills. He rarely participates in activities and Ross does not acknowledge people or objects outwith his routine.

In our first session, Ross looked around the room and occasionally looked at me when spoken to but did not touch the Skoog and covered his hands with his jumper. He did not respond to his name being sung or to a backing track. Ross sat patiently while I cycled through the sounds and played a variety of instruments. When he was told that the session had ended, he stood up, left the room and resumed his regular routine of walking between the two doors. Eventually, I recorded the sound of the door handle being turned onto the Skoog’s sampler. When Ross first heard this, he showed little response. However, when I demonstrated the similarities between the real door and the recording and gestured to Ross to touch the Skoog, he pressed the top panel very quickly and gently. Encouragingly, I managed to get Ross to touch the Skoog several times during the session while the door handle sound was assigned to the top panel. For the first time, Ross responded by smiling and laughing several times.


Ross’ care worker noted that he likes the sound of vacuum cleaners so I added this recorded sound to the Skoog. Ross reacted favourably to this and, after much repetition, began to touch the Skoog with one hand when I demonstrated it to him. By the end of our session, he was able to activate the sounds when I simply asked him to do so.

In the final session, I replaced the recordings with instrument sounds. Ross began to make music by pressing the Skoog while smiling and was able to use both hands when I indicated which hand I wanted him to use.



The case studies demonstrate that the Skoog can benefit a range of service users with a variety of disabilities. It was also found that the participants were able to use the Skoog regardless of how severe or complex their needs.


Ross learnt to touch the Skoog without prompt and it would be interesting to find out if music could encourage him to participate in other activities. Progress between his first and last session was dramatic and Ross demonstrated that he could have the confidence to express himself through music.

The ability to customise the Skoog to the needs of the user was vital to the success of this project and members of staff were highly complementary of the Skoog:

‘Those who are more able bodied can speak...whereas there are one or two people here that can’t do that but...they can just touch it gently and it will make a noise which allows them to take part.’

(Isobel Rhind Centre, 2010)

The Skoog provides access to the music-making process in many ways, Ross, for instance, progressed from not participating in activities to being able to touch the Skoog on cue with either hand.


From Watson, E. J. (2010). SKOOG MUSIC: NEW MUSIC TECHNOLOGY FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Unpublished Master's Thesis) University of Edinburgh.