Several years ago I developed this system for people who cannot use their right pedal when playing the piano. This may be because of physical limitations such as a paralysed leg, a spinal cord injury or ALS. The system is built into their own instrument and adapted to their specific needs and abilities. The system consists of a solenoid (electromagnet), a control unit for setting the correct forces and sizes depending on the type and brand of the instrument, a 24 volt DC power supply, and a cable set. The aim is to enable the player to use the dampers with another part of the body than the right foot. How this is done varies. The dampers can be used for example by with the knee.
Squeezing a small ball with the mouth. That is, the lips squeeze a small, flexible plastic ball (pipette balloon of 10 mm). Then, through a tube, a pressure-sensitive switch is activated (0.006 amperes, 0.1 volts) which controls the system.
A tipping switch in a headband.
The photo shows a solenoid built into an upright piano. If this electromagnet is activated, the core moves upwards and the pedal rod is pressed upward, just as a regular pedal would do. Because instruments are constructed differently, the methods of fixing varies also. With grand pianos, for instance, the solenoid presses against a lever which is located on the underside of the grand piano.
In all cases, the dampers can still be controlled with the foot.
The system can be built into all kind of upright pianos and grand pianos.
Michiel van Loon was born in 1947 in The Hague. After 17 years in various positions at construction companies, he temporarily stopped working in 1982 to take care of his 3 children. His wife then provided the income. During that time he was busy with the restoration of a few player pianos and he studied piano technique. He has been a certified piano technician since 1991. In 2002 he was asked to help a disabled pianist to use the damper pedal again. With the help of various people, he has developed a system through which the damping can be operated with parts of the body other than the foot. Initially with parts from PianoDisc from the United States, later with parts from Laukhuff from Germany, among others. 12 pianists with disabilities in the Netherlands, 2 in the US and 1 in Italy can now operate the dampers with a small movement of the knee or by squeezing a pipette balloon with their lips. The system can be built into almost any upright piano or grand piano. There is also a stand-alone demonstration version that can be placed under a grand piano or in front of an upright piano.
Event organised by the Association of Polish Piano Tuners
Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 3.30 pm, Room Pine