Paraplegic Plays Violin Publicly
Music has been used as therapy as far back as World War II. However, the Virtual Music Instrument, gives therapeutic music a whole new meaning.
The Virtual Music Instrument allows people to play music without having to hold, or manipulate, an actual instrument. The VMI was originally designed as an interactive toy for youths.
The person is seated, facing a large television screen with a Web cam on top, pointing at them. Their image is projected in front of them onto the screen. Large coloured dots are superimposed on the space around them. Each dot represents a different musical note. When the person reaches out their arm and passes it through a virtual dot, the computer software translates the movement into the appropriate note.
The VMI can generate musical sounds by translating even small movements, such as finger movements, to large ones, such as reaching an arm in the air. Advanced technology, in the case of Wan, with simply a nod of his head, or a blink of his eyes, translates movement into sound.
Violinist Eric Wan, who is paralysed from the neck down, wowed an audience at Montreal’s Place des Arts, with his violin performance. Violinist Adrain Anantawan, born without a right hand, also performed with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra.
It took Wan 2 years to learn how to breathe after becoming paralysed at 18 years-old. He had been learning the violin since the age of 10 and always felt destined to perform publicly. As an engineering graduate student at the Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, Wan helped create the VMI.
“It’s great to see Eric able to perform at the level of symphony orchestra given his level of disability,” said an engineer who worked with him. “He is very courageous, a real fighter.”