In the last few weeks since I wrote on this blog, I have been busy finding ways of progressing my conducting project. It continues to be a big challenge as it is one of those things which is very specialised and not an easily definable career path. Nevertheless, things are slowly moving forward and new fruits are appearing!
With the support of Reading Hackspace I have now created the third prototype of the head-baton for which I am really grateful. I have done a small timeline below depicting the evolving design of the device. I would like to thank Paul who has given his time for free to help me on this.
Prototype No 1: My original head pointer which I use to operate computers and such other devices. I had my first head pointer when I was nine years old which was made by the Rehab Department at Lord Mayor Treloar School (now renamed ‘Treloars’). I remember putting the idea forward while they were trying to find ways for me to operate the BBC computers.
After trying countless scanning devices where I had to click a single button to start a scan of options on the screen and then click the button to make my selection, I ended up suggesting that I could point with my head. For some people, these scanning methods work fantastically, but me being the impatient person I am, I got bored very quickly whilst waiting for the scan to end up on the selection I wanted. Anyway, getting back on track, after a few weeks of using the head pointer, I began thinking as to whether I could conduct music using my head…as you do!
So, in 2012 (about 18 years since that initial thought), with the support of John Lubbock, a string quartet from the Orchestra of St John’s and ReadiPop, I tried conducting with my head. Despite this working, the one major issue with this head pointer was that it covered my face. Now, for some this might have been a saving grace! However, when conducting music, it is crucial for people to see my face (poor buggers!) in order for the emotion of the music to be understood by the musicians playing. Plus, by 2012, I was using an ugly white and blue “chin pointer” which was made by the NHS. As a side note, at that time, these “chin pointers” cost £60 plus p&p but I have since found a way to make my own for £18.
Prototype No 2: With the advice from John Lubbock, I then designed a head baton which was based on the original “chin pointer” but with longer arms which descended further before protruding away from me.
The idea being that it wouldn’t cover my face. Now, this worked but the arms were made out of aluminium doweling; adding an increased weight to my head. When conducting, this made it challenging as the increased weight caused a swing after every head movement.
In addition, because of this very fact, I had to wear this head baton quite tightly on my head, giving me headaches. Therefore, there were lessons which were learnt from this prototype being that future prototypes have to be constructed using light materials and that they need to be weight balanced.
This prototype also did not address the aesthetic element purely because it was the first purpose built head baton which I knew would highlight faults needing to be addressed in future prototypes. I therefore purposely ignored this element.
Prototype No 3: The current head baton looks more like prototype No 1 in that it’s all made out of plastic (apart from a few bolts and screws) and the arms are of similar design to the original “chin pointer”. This prototype will be tested in two week’s time when I attend the conducting open day at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Again, the aesthetic element of the device has been purposely classed as low priority just because of the current developmental stage. However, the aesthetic will be addressed in great detail further down the evolutionary timeline. When this time comes, I will be putting in a lot of work to ensure that the final head baton can be visually accepted as a part of my outfit within a concert and/or gig environment.
My journey with this project is moving forward step by step and it has got a few more twists and turns to go yet. I do feel that it is making progress and over the next few weeks I will be continuing to look at conducting courses on which I can enrol. There is a big reliance on me being taken seriously by the music community and this can be a challenge as I’m doing something unique which has never been done before. However, this makes it ever more exciting; constantly stretching the mind and emotional strength to push forward to achieve one’s goal.
I would be delighted to hear from people giving their reactions, thoughts, feelings, and poems about smiley faced sausages (or even relating to the contents of this article)! So please do get in touch.