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Case Study
Watson 2010 - Summary
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The following document summarises several case studies conducted in parallel in Scotland between 18th May and 30th June 2010 by Ewen Watson (University of Edinburgh). Due to timeframe and funding implications, five special needs organisations close to the research base were approached. Of these, two day care respite centres agreed to participate in the research: Cedarwood in Elgin (Moray) and the Isobel Rhind Centre in Invergordon (Highland). Staff at these centres were unfamiliar with the Skoog before the study began and had limited experience of using music technology with their service users.

 

Using a mainly qualitative design, this research focuses on the specific needs of service users, investigating how the Skoog can assist in each unique case. Therefore, two research methods were chosen to gain primary research: case studies and semi-structured interviews.

 

Sense Scotland, based in Glasgow, volunteered its facilities for this project. Sense Scotland specialises in using music technology ‘with children and adults who have communication support needs because of deafblindness, sensory impairment, learning and physical disabilities’ (Sense Scotland, 2008). Although this level of technological experience separates Sense Scotland from the other participating organisations, neither staff nor service users had used the Skoog prior to this research and staff were interested in trialling the Skoog for possible future purchase. Sense went on to purchase 2 Skoogs after the research was concluded. Additionally, the centre’s high level of music provision provides an opportunity to use the Skoog alongside other resources: an advantage for this research in both comparative and cooperative ways. A total of 60 participants of different ages and abilities participated.

Due to this study’s voluntary nature and the fact that research was conducted on vulnerable individuals, participants were mainly selected by members of staff. Thus, the Skoog was generally assigned to the service users who normally react favourably to music. 45 minute sessions were designed on a week-to-week basis with the intention of challenging the service users and potentially improving their participation, communication, engagement, understanding and awareness.


It should be noted that no participant reacted adversely to the Skoog and the six case studies identified for in depth review (see case studies 1-3) were selected because of their uniqueness and the researcher’s personal interest in their development.


Summary of Findings


Supporting Skoog Music’s motto, ‘music for everyone’, this research presents the Skoog as a highly accessible resource, that supports a high level of musical interaction. The Skoog allows users to ‘feel’ the music they are creating and naturally imitate musical instruments in a controlled and expressive manner: a feature that places the users at the heart of the music-making process.

 

The Skoog is more affordable than most advanced music technology resources and is easier to set up and use. Its software allows sounds to be adapted and tailored to the needs of users and the Skoog is designed to be altered ‘on the spot’ which is useful when working with new clients or those whose needs are continually changing.
Because this is the first piece of research to explore the Skoog, there is room for further research to be conducted. For example, the Skoog could be used across a larger geographical area with an even wider range of clients. Furthermore, a comparative field study could focus on assorted technologies (including the Skoog) to paint a more complete picture of the current technological landscape for special needs.


Overall, the Skoog has proved to be an extremely valuable resource to improve participation among special needs service users and staff opinion reflects this view. The case studies show how the Skoog can act as an easy-to-use developmental tool that is enjoyable and engaging and contributes to service users’ communication, understanding and awareness. It has proved to be a dynamic instrument that can be used to compliment other forms of music technology but, as a standalone instrument, the Skoog is a unique and multifaceted resource that offers a fresh and affordable approach to accessible music-making.

 

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