Four Instruments for Wheelchair Users to Try

Wheelchair users may feel a sense of dismay when it comes to learning to play an instrument. Drums may not seem quite right because they require quick movement, turning of the body, and use of hands and feet. Huge instruments like the tuba or harp can seem almost impossible. Before you forgo learning a new instrument, know that there is adaptive technology available for making music and that some instruments are ready for you to play. Here are four instruments you should check out that you can play from your wheelchair.

  • Woodwind instruments such as the flute or clarinet
    These instruments require use of hands to play notes and the upper body strength to hold the instrument up for a period of time. They also require some lung strength to play them. Flutes are great for wheelchair users because they are lightweight. However, if the flute isn’t quite right, the clarinet, while still lightweight, may be a better option for some wheelchair users because it does not take as much air pressure to play it. So, if it is too difficult to get the air pressure required on the flute, the clarinet may be the better woodwind for some individuals.
  • The ukulele
    A lighter and smaller alternative to a guitar, ukuleles are known for being somewhat easy to play and a great instrument to start on for beginners.
  • The bongos
    If you’re interested in playing percussion, the bongos are a good way to go. They don’t require the use of feet to play (like regular drum kits), and they give a fun tropical sound.
  • The Keyboard or Piano
    The piano can be a little harder for wheelchair users if they want to use the foot pedals (adaptations may have to be made). However, a keyboard or piano without the use of foot pedals is a great option for wheelchair users. With such a wide variety of music that can be played on a keyboard, a wheelchair user is sure to find a style that he or she likes.For adaptive music technologies, there are a couple of different forms available. For playing the drums and bells, there are switch-adapted instruments. These instruments allow the drums and bells to be played by activating a switch. While this is typically used to teach children, these can be used by people of all ages. Some instruments can also be customized to meet an individual’s needs. This option can be costly, but can be a good option for someone who is passionate about playing a particular instrument. For people who are looking to play music but not necessarily set on playing an instrument, there is digital technology available that allows users to make music without playing an instrument. Technology like Beamz and the Ableton controllers are devices that can be placed on a tabletop and used to make music, but aren’t traditional instruments. This can be a great option for wheelchair users. So, if you aren’t interested in the instruments listed above, consider these adaptive technologies.If you’re a wheelchair user and interested in playing an instrument, try it! Remember that learning to play an instrument can be difficult for anyone, but with consistent practice and persistence, you will continue to improve. No matter which instrument you choose, we at MobilityWorks wish you the best of luck. For more resources and tips, check out our other blog posts.