The OHMI Instrument Hire Scheme was set up in 2015 to give disabled musicians the opportunity to hire an instrument of their choice, and at an affordable rate. Here we outline the scheme, and its importance in opening up music-making.
What's included in OHMI's Instrument Hire Scheme?
OHMI’s Instrument Hire Scheme currently holds 152 adapted instruments and 157 pieces of enabling apparatus. The scheme includes left- and right-handed instruments such as recorders, flutes and trombones, as well as lesser-known electronic instruments. In this final category are the lesser-known LinnStrument (an electronic instrument that can be played through software available on a tablet or iPad); the Artiphon Instrument One (an entry-level solution for anyone interested in starting out on guitar, ukulele or violin); and the Chapman Stick (which is played like a guitar).
What makes an instrument suitable for one-handed use?
As far as brass instruments are concerned, most of the operation is undertaken by one hand, and the other hand takes the weight. As such, a brass instrument can often be played one handed with the help of an instrument support, which can also aid balance. OHMI’s Instrument Hire Scheme includes both trumpet and trombone stands, as well as the ‘Claritie’, which supports the clarinet around the neck and in a playing position.
Conversely, woodwind instruments require operation by both hands so the one-handed version of the recorder, instrument or clarinet need a completely different structure of keys.
String instruments where, on a conventional instrument, one hand operates the bow and the other applies the fingering, are harder to find solutions for. However, some supportive apparatus can assist the player.
How often does OHMI add new instruments and equipment to its Instrument Hire Scheme?
We add to our instrument hire scheme as soon as we are able to raise the necessary funds to purchase the instruments. When an item is requested, we will do our best to purchase the equipment.
Often, an instrument’s route into the scheme is via the biennial OHMI Competition. The Competition welcomes entries in three key categories: Concept, Enabling Apparatus and Playable Instrument. First and foremost, it attracts entries from commercial instrument makers and SMEs where instrument making is very much part of their day job. A second group of applicants lies in academic researchers who are seeking to research or explore a particular instrument adaptation or develop a prototype. A third group of entrants can be defined as friends or family of disabled musicians who are in need of a particular piece of kit.
It is a continual task for OHMI to secure the funding to take a prototype from the competition and create a fully functioning piece of kit to be made available as part of the Instrument Hire Scheme. This is usually done in response to the needs of particular musicians. As one example, the prototype for Duncan Menzies’s PBrock Bagpipe Chanter won the Playable category of the 2017 Competition but it was multiple requests – and securing of grant funding – that eventually led to the commissioning of five instruments.
Why hire an instrument when it can be purchased outright?
Playing a musical instrument is deeply personal: how the instrument is held and the sound it produces. There is no rationale as to why you might like a particular instrument; but if it doesn’t feel right or match your interest, you won’t feel compelled to practise and make progress.
It is important that a musician has time with an instrument to truly determine whether it is suitable for them. Instrument hire makes that entirely affordable; a one-year rental is charged at no more than 15% of the retail value of the instrument.
How does the OHMI Instrument Hire Scheme help make a case to funders for instrument purchase?
Where a musician lacks the financial means to purchase an instrument, they might seek to enlist support through a crowdfunding campaign or through a funder. Whoever is making a donation will want evidence that the piece of kit requested is fit for purpose; and capturing on video how the rented instrument can be played, presents the perfect showcase.
Which instrument is right for me?
Individuals will have a preference to play a particular instrument, and therefore should have access to the equipment that allows them to play the instrument of their choice.
Since it is an instrument largely operated with the left hand, it is tempting to push musicians who only have the use of their left hand, to play the French Horn. An instrument can only ever be the right option if it engages the user and allows them to play the type of music they enjoy. There is little point giving a rock musician a flute, or a brass band fan a guitar!
The OHMI team are well-versed in matching musicians with the instruments that best suit them.
How do I know if I qualify for OHMI’s Instrument Hire Scheme?
OHMI’s Instrument Hire Scheme is open to all individuals, music services and schools wherever they might live in the world. A cost breakdown as well as rental terms and conditions can be accessed on the Instrument hire page of the OHMI website.
Expressions of interest
Contact OHMI to find out more about its Instrument Hire Scheme.