Compact, user-friendly instrument teaches prisoners to play music

Jeroen Heeren has designed an all-purpose keyboard to teach prisoners music.

While researching the leisure activities of repeat offenders in Esserheem Prison in Veenhuizen village, Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Jeroen Heeren discovered that many inmates would love to learn an instrument.

"Making music is good for my mind-set so that I can switch my attention away from the negative thoughts.  I want to learn to play piano and make good use of my time. I do have enough time,” says a prisoner named Marcel, detained at Esserheem.

Existing musical instruments are unsustainable and unsuitable for Esserheem. Classical musical instruments are expensive to purchase and maintain, and modern, electrical musical instruments have a number of additional elements such as cables, devices, and control systems. Electrical musical instruments are susceptible to loss and damage. It is also likely that the keyboard’s keys have been replaced by a touch screen, which doesn’t convey the feeling of playing a traditional instrument.

The largest stumbling block in supplying prisoners with both classical and modern musical instruments is that they both require teachers, which the prison system is unlikely to prioritise.

So, Heeren, a graduate of the Department of Man and Leisure designed The All In One Veenhuizen Time Flies Keyboard to the Rescue – a stand-alone keyboard that comes equipped with the software of electronic music systems and hardware of a keyboard into a single user-friendly design.

The All In One Veenhuizen Time Flies Keyboard to the Rescue is designed so that no third-party participation is required – the prisoner is his or her own teacher. The compact keyboard has an interface that teaches prisoners to practice melodies or chords in tandem with band music and as the prisoner improves they can progress to playing solos.

The keyboard is available at the Esserheem Prison library. The All In One Veenhuizen Time Flies Keyboard to the Rescue is a positive rehabilitation system designed to teach prisoners the basics of piano.

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