H’art School of Smiles is a non-profit organization that helps adults with intellectual and physical disabilities build their literacy and social skills through arts and education. The students at H’art School of Smiles are actively engaged in artistic endeavors, however there is a need for additional musical exposure to broaden the school’s curriculum. The students were asked to create a set of easy-to-use musical instruments that would allow these adults to express themselves while improving their social skills and musical understanding.

The client required musical instruments that were simple, inexpensive, portable, and could be easily handled. The design needed to be economical, eco-friendly, and adjustable to accommodate different heights. H’art School incorporates the use of group activities, thus creating the need for the instrument to be played by up to twelve people at a time with varying levels of instrument difficulty. The team was able to apply their critical thinking and conceptual skills while simultaneously developing their problem-solving abilities and professionalism.

The team began by researching various intellectual and physical disabilities in order to determine what instruments were less accessible to the students. Once the instruments were designed, software was used to analyse the sound quality, ensuring all aspects of the product were audible and pleasing. Physical testing was also performed to verify its accessibility, structural integrity, and adjustability. Upon completion, the fully-functional prototype was given to the client to be incorporated into their musical curriculum. This team was awarded the Mason Cup for their high degree of technical competence, professional communication, and teamwork capabilities.

“The APSC students developed three prototypes to answer our needs and went above and beyond to come up with creative solutions to fulfill our requests. Our students were so excited to try out the final results and the stands have really added a new dimension to our music program. Now, let’s make some noise!!”

– Anita Boldt, Client

software interface
Instruments were analysed with audio software to ensure proper function
The support structure was designed to be strong, yet also collapsible