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I need to find an instrument for a child with cerebral pasy - spastic quadriplegia. Are there any adapted instruments she could play?


Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #2 

It is very difficult to advise without knowing more about the child - each person's abilities and difficulties form a very individual package.

General speaking, youngsters with cerebral palsy are the most disadvantaged when it comes to playing an orchestral instrument because, not only do they have restricted movement of fingers and arms, their immobility in early childhood inhibits the development of rhythmic skills.There are some exceptions, and I know of individuals who have played to an intermediate level on wind and brass.

Brass instruments are more accessible because they can be supported on a stand and played with one hand. One-handed recorders are fairly easy to track down, though flutes and clarinets are very specialist and prohibitively expensive. Violins and cellos can be adapted to be fingered with the right hand. The cello is likely to be more suitable for a cerebral palsied child than a violin, on account of playing position, spacing on the finger-board and the generally slower character of its music. I had a young lady with cerebral palsy who played cello in one of my ensembles. She only ever achieved a grade 2-ish technical standard, but she played extremely musically and the cello continued to play a major part in her life after she left school.

The vast majority of pupils with spastic quadriplegia are unable to play orchestral instruments, even with adaptations. For them Orff melodic percussion instruments, which allow bars to be removed and re-spaced, often give access to group music-making. Apart from these, electronic instruments are the best bet. Possibilities include keyboards, the Casio Omnichord, Casio Digital Horn and Ruud van der Wel's Magic Flute.

Happily, I have always been able to find a way to involve even the most severely disabled in ensemble music, thanks to York University's MIDIgrid software. I now publish this unique and highly creative software myself to ensure its continued availability. You can read all about it at and

The Full Pitcher is able to supply grids customised to the individual requirements of special needs customers.

I hope this helps!



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Reply with quote  #3 


The following discussion forum has information about instruments adapted for permanently disabled individuals (string, keybord, wind, electronic instruments...).

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