Tablet Ocarina Project etc


25   Saturday 22nd July 2017


Because the music session with John, 31st December, as described below, appeared to be so interesting and  unique, and at the suggestion of a friend to do so, Robert wrote to the world famous percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie about the occasion, and asked for her comments. This was her very encouraging reply;

23rd February 2015

Dear Robert and John,                                                                                  


Thank you for your very interesting letter about John’s experience and creation of his new ‘Chicken Drumstick’ instrument. Evelyn thoroughly enjoyed reading your letter and found the story about the work of the Blue Flash Music Trust most inspiring.


In short the only advice Evelyn feels able to give is for you to continue to explore the flexibility in music making which John has certainly done. Each individual will have their own way of discovering things & their own level of participation and of course their own innovative ideas about the tools they can use! The idea of creating personal instruments is always worthwhile as there can often be a greater sense of attachment, discovery and achievement which can boost the spirit and empower confidence.

In the meantime Evelyn sends you and the Trust her very best wishes.

Kind regards


Business Adviser to Evelyn Glennie


  23rd April 2015 The Trust met up with Julian Lloyd Webber 23rd April 2015 at the Horsham Capitol theatre when he  presented his new show “An Evening With Julian Lloyd Webber,” and gave him an update of our work. Martin Jeremiah, Trust business adviser, wrote an excellent  review of the evening. A scanned version of the article, published in the District Post, 8th May 2015, is featured on the Julian Lloyd Webber/Patron page, and was sent to Julian the same day and he replied; 

“That’s lovely Robert - please thank Martin very much! All best wishes Julian”

   We also showed him this photograph of John, with a big grin across his face, strumming a ukulele. Julian is familiar with John’s story as described below, and his comment was, “well that’s what music can do!”


John’s New Drum

Wednesday 31st December 2014      A very special session.


   This session with John began in the usual way at about 10.40, at the Suzanne Green Day Centre, when we both went into the lounge. However, something unusual had preceded this when it was discovered that a large coffee container was empty. The plastic lid was clipped back on, and to all intents and purposes it had now become a perfect drum; ideal for John! So we went into the lounge now carrying the new drum. At this point other things had to be attended to and John was left by himself with the drum and one maracas.


   Five minutes later John was checked on and was discovered happily settled with the drum and the maracas, a blissful look on his face as he sat tapping out a rhythm on one end of the drum, accompanied by a big smile on his face. It is worth noting this happy state because he had not been looking very well lately, but now here was a very happy chappy!


   We had been given an extra amount of time and we moved next door, and while I played and sang songs, accompanying myself on the ukulele, John spent the next 40 minutes finding different ways to play the drum, without any prompting from myself. He was using the maracas tapping the metal end, the plastic end, the plastic edges, and then tapping the various surfaces with his fingers, knocking with his knuckles, and brushing with his finger nails. He then discovered there was paper covering over the drum advertising the type of coffee. We soon had this off, and found the drum was made of cardboard, which made an enormous difference to the quality of sound. He was concerned there was bit of glue on the cardboard, but became much happier when he understood he could paint over the cardboard and hide any blemishes. In the meantime we put the bits of paper inside the drum, and the whole thing was a shaker!


   In this way John had spent a completely unscheduled hour; 10.40-11.40 working with music in a very, unforeseen and original way. It was a delight all round. The songs we used were nice and snappy like The Teddy Bears Picnic, It’s only a paper moon, She didn’t say yes, she didn’t say no, plus some nursery rhymes that John was able to pick out from a nursery rhyme book with which he is very familiar. There were songs like I’m a little teapot, One two three four five, Baa, baa black sheep, Hickory dickory dock, Rock a bye baby, Humpty dumpty, and Sing a song of sixpence.

   John who is 75, and has never been able to speak, but he knows what he likes and the sessions at the Suzanne Green community centre bring him the enjoyment of nursery rhymes, the sound of the ukulele, and the chance to play on the bongo drums and the maracas. Recently he had a go at strumming on the ukulele; it was a delight to see the pleasure on his face. This session resulted in the creation of John’s Drumstick, which he is playing here.


Summer 2015, The Trust launched the Tablet Ocarina Project which has progressed slowly; now we are beginning to see results:-

   Saturday 16th April 2016

   The project was begun after the Trust purchased a copy of Ocarina music in braille for James with whom the Trust has been working for many years.


             item A                                                                                                                    item B

                                                    item C                                           item D

   The braille book of ocarina music item A is an exact copy of the ocarina music book on the right, item B; they are both for “Twinkle twinkle little star”. One is for the sighted person and the other for the non-sighted person. The aim of the Tablet Ocarina project is to create a common ground so that the sighted and the non-sighted musician can ‘read’ the music together.

   Item C is the keyboard set-up for TT, with a tablature that James is able to touch and ‘read’, as he has already proved. With the use of the Raspberry Pi, item D, it was intended that when the keys were touched then the sound of an ocarina would be heard.

   Fortunately for the Trust, Jonathan, from a local school, and a member of HackHorsham was on hand today, and with great ingenuity and tenacity was able to show that the keyboard designed by Robert actually worked. “When I arrived Jonathan had already set up the Raspberry Pi, as seen in item D, and within a short time item C had been connected to the Raspberry Pi. What caused the problem was that the files of the ocarina sounds were not recognised by the RPi, basically because the recordings I had made were too long, so new ones had to be made. Eventually every thing worked, and we were able to video Jonathan playing TT. What a relief that was!!

   James was delighted to hear this news, and sends his thanks to Jonathan.


2002-3 A grant of £4,500 was received from Awards for All to set things going in 2002 and helped to set up the website. In 2003 the Trust discovered that the Horsham Town Hall has superb acoustics. The Georgian/Victorian building had been designed as a 'traditional shoe-box shaped auditorium' which has always been a successful acoustic design. Then in the same year the Trust was awarded a grant of £1,100 from The Gatwick Community Trust to help set up the concerts in the Town Hall as can be seen in the picture below.


21st December 2014 Loan of violin to Sam who wanted the chance to bring some violin playing into his concerts

23rd November 2014 The Trust gave a concert at Leggyfield.

22nd November 2014 Generous donation of a Hewlett Packard photocopier to the Trust from Jenny Long

19th September 2014  We wrote to our Patron Julian Lloyd Webber about the story of the Trench Cello that featured on In Tune, Radio 3 and he replied, fascinating-many thanks for sending this through. The story is about Lieutenant Harry Triggs of the Royal Sussex Regiment, who had taken the cello to the trenches in the 1st World War. Follow this link to hear Harry Triggs’ trench cello being played by Steven Isserlis;

18th September 2014 During this music session Chris very much liked the song Linden Lea, accompanied on the ukulele. At the end she whispered was that the first or the second part or the song. When asked whether she would like another part of the song she replied that she would. She was delighted when I was able to play a newly composed part written specially for her 29th September.

27th February 2013, regular music sessions begin at Suzanne Green Day Centre.

Currently, and for the last two decades, long before the Trust was formed, music lessons have continued with James of Haywards Heath, who has been blind since birth. Music has opened an entirely new world to him particularly when Robert gave a children’s party and instead of being put off by the sounds of the party James took part and sang over the microphone. He then rang up and asked to be given lessons in the ocarina, an instrument that had been used at the party. He now has a collection of about 30 musical instruments!

2006-7 The loan of two pianos to Horsham residents from the Trust. These piano are still currently on loan. The Trust contacted both families in 2015, and both families and pianos are very happy indeed!


                  John Evans 1939-2015

John, pictured here, had never been able to speak in his life but eventually found the joy of playing musical instruments through working with the Blue Flash Music Trust.


James, who is blind, shows his delight on being told about the Tablet Ocarina Project  and how he was helping to drive it forward.

  Further work took place at Rebel Makers run by Collyers College Saturday 16th April 2016. Results of the session are set out below.


Comment on HackHorsham Facebook Page:

   A project for a blind person. An incredible collaboration between an OAP who has the idea and a prototype for his blind friend, with a 12 year old who has some electronics/programming and Raspberry Pi experience.




                                                                      Robert and Jonathan


                   This is what a makers club is all about.      Community. Creativity. Exploration.


The items listed here for the Grand Auction at The Jolly Tanners, Staplefield, 23rd June, were donated by Robert Mayfield who won them in the East Street Loyalty Scheme set up by the East Street businesses; any funds raised will go to St Catherine’s Hospice and the Blue Flash Music Trust.

For more details go to update 281 for 8th April 2016


As mentioned on the latest update page for 12th July the Grand Auction held on 23rd July raised a total of £452, which was divided equally between the St Catherine’s Hospice and the Blue Flash Music Trust. More details below.

  James cannot wait to get his hands on it!


Article below appeared in the District Post 15th July 2016


  With the help of Jonathan and other members of the Rebel Makers club, a working version of the Tablet Ocarina Project was put on display at the HackHorsham event at the Capitol theatre on Sunday 10th July, 2016.


It created a lot of interesting conversations particularly with Angie, an Ocarina teacher, Grace, who is very much in tune with the HackHorsham way of thinking, and with the founder of the festival, Paul Bellringer, who felt that the project was very much what the festival was all about.


Working at a recent session of HackHorsham 16th July at Collyers

sorting out the Raspberry Pi!

   The Raspberry Pi is not perfect, but with a little help it is almost perfect; it does not have the capacity to accommodate the leads shown above. The photo shows the white power lead and the lead to the sound system. There is simply not the room in the layers to accommodate them both. It was a joy to get into the system and take it apart, and fortunately there was a spare green layer and some spare nuts, which meant taking the top to pieces, put in the extra nuts between the green layers and put it altogether. In this way the leads go in without any problems at all. There is also room for the converter bedded in the yellow and red layers. Whilst working on the Raspberry Pi it was amazing to rediscover that love of taking things apart as experienced when a 12 year old. Just shows how experiences like that in early life are not lost and can once again be rediscovered.


Below is the two page article that appeared in the Magpi magazine August 2016 about the Tablet Ocarina Project


    The Trust has received the encouraging news that Sue Pettet recently managed to get onto The Seasons Art Class at the Tithe Barn. We wish her luck. If you remember she was featured in our update 262 for the 5th October 2015 when we sponsored an exhibition for her in the Hurst room at the Horsham Museum. This is the statement that Sue made in relation to the exhibition;

   I have always had an eye for colour and detail and took great pleasure working on different crafts, but all this was to change at the age of 58 when doctors discovered a tumour on my spine which had to be removed. The location of the tumour meant that the operation was high risk and when I came round I was paralysed down my left side. Having been left handed this had a devastating effect on all aspects of my life.

   With determination and patience, I have taught myself over the last 8 years to do a great range of things with my right hand, but it was obvious that the intricate card and craft work I had previously done was no longer accessible to me. With the help and guidance of staff and volunteers at the Suzanne Green Day Centre, I was introduced to the world of acrylic painting, and threw myself into it.

   Painting for me is more than paint on canvas, it's a chance to experiment and to express myself under difficult circumstances and to produce pieces of art which I'm proud of. I hope that you enjoy the exhibition of work and gain an insight into how valuable the making of art is for everyone.

   I would like to thank Horsham Museum for providing the venue for this exhibition. It has been a long term goal and it is immensely pleasing that it has now been realised.

   Thanks to all the artistic help from Jane Hitchins, and to the Blue Flash Music Trust for the sponsorship of the exhibition.


Sue and some of her many paintings

   Progress continues to be made with the Tablet Ocarina Project in connection with which there should shortly be some exciting announcements, as there is plenty to build on where the project is concerned.

   We wrote to Pimoroni about our work with the Raspberry Pi, and were pleased to receive a new frame for the Raspberry Pi, plus a USB hub, which has greatly improved our connection abilities.

   The Trust has been finding out about the Sonic Pi; an amazing part of Raspberry Pi  and Nick Butler managed to get a few words in about HackHorsham and the Raspberry Pi when he caught up with the Big BBC bus tour on the 28th September in the Carfax.



Latest Trust Highlights;

   In preparation for Social Enterprise Day 17th November this promotional picture was taken by Nick Skinner to go onto the Social Enterprise website, in celebration of all the Social Enterprise organisations across the country, and in our case highlighting the Tablet Ocarina Project, about which there is plenty more information further down this page, and more on update 303 dated 18th November 2016 on the Q & A page.

   At his latest session with the Trust James was shown how to ‘read’ the recently created keyboards for the Tablet Ocarina project pictured below.

   Here James shows off his Udu drum that he crafted at his pottery class; it makes a really lovely sound, which he loves.

17  Flynn to the rescue; 10th December.


   It was planned at the Rebel Makers on Saturday 10th December that various aspects of the Tablet Ocarina project would go forward with the help of Jonathan, but he was so busily involved with the preparation for the Raspberry Pi Jam session 11th December that he was unable to help out. We had everything set out in the form of the two Raspberry PI’s; one of which was planned to work with the Arduino, as part of the Tablet Ocarina Project and it seemed for a time that nothing could progress further, when onto the scene appeared 11 year old Flynn from Crawley, who without a moment’s hesitation was able to update the newly purchased Raspberry Pi. Working in the world of programming is to me something akin to trying to read braille, and I had found in the past that trying to work on the Raspberry Pi without knowing what you are doing can lead to disaster, and I did not want to go down that road again. Flynn made the visit to Rebel Makers well worthwhile. With Jonathan and Flynn around the Tablet Ocarina Project is bound to develop much to the delight of the blind of the community! RM

18   Tablet Ocarina Project 31st December


   Today it was really is so encouraging to see that the Tablet Ocarina keyboards are as helpful as ever for James even though the project has not yet been fully realised. I would say that in itself that it is the sign of a good product  as he finds them a great help to remind him where he is in a piece of music as prior to the keyboards there was nothing as tangible as these for him to get his hands on. I hope it will catch on one day as it would benefit a lot of people.

   It was during this session that James demonstrated how he loved to dance to tunes like “Knees Up Mother Brown”. Then the following evening I heard a very catchy song on Bob Roberts’ programme Unforgettable called “Put Your Shoes on Lucy”. I realised James would love this, and sent an email to Bob; Bob, please thank your wife for the inclusion of this song. It has a nice bouncy rhythm ideal when working with a blind student who likes to dance as I sing and play on the ukulele. Regards Robert Mayfield

   To which came the great reply; That's so wonderful ..thank you Robert for sharing,..and for all you do...Best Regards  Bob

19 Tablet Ocarina Project 14th January 2017

   As ever a great session at HackHorsham because there are a lot of helpful enthusiastic folks around ever willing to putting in their penny worth which is always useful. Thanks to all.        

   So the Tablet Ocarina Project goes on its way much to the delight of James for whom it was created.

Setting up Ocarina notes on Raspberry Pi

20   Saturday 11th February 2017


   This was another useful day at HackHorsham with a lot of helpful people of all ages around. The whole event shows what can happen when people gather together to progress technological projects forward. The TOP is not exactly the kind of project you would expect at a Tech Hub since it is focused on music for the non sighted, but it shows there are no barriers, in fact over the course of the three hours four people came to put in their useful pennyworth, and the project just grows at each visit. Finally Peter Ross of Red River took a lot of time and trouble analysing why the Raspberry Pi was not accessing the input that we know is available on the internet. His opinion was that a lot of coding has been produced, but in too much of a careless fashion, so his task was to locate what was available making the R Pi respond where  musical sounds are concerned. In the earlier stages Jonathan had shown this was possible now it is a question of making it a reality.

The Raspberry Pi, with all the notes of the ocarina, plus C sharp now connected.

click on link to see video. Thanks to Nik and Marcus for this great video.

21 Saturday 11th March 2017
   Another great event event exploring the capabilities of raspberry pi and realising that for the ocarina project only the arduino will suit. Credit to everyone, particularly Nigel and Peter, who tried to find the answer, found a lot of fun, and the next step to go. See video below to catch the flavour of the event.

22   Saturday 9th April 2017

   With the help of Peter, and Flynn this session was spent re-evaluating the situation; we felt it was best to abandon the original capacitative touch design and go for a more traditional switch based design which relies on the two way electrical flow of positive and negative, something that capacitative touch does not have. We have found after extensive work that our design will work best with a traditional flow of electricity

     A                                                             B

   The design of the keyboard will essentially remain the same, as featured here A, because the design is exclusively for a non-sighted person, so a braille like feature is essential as the use of touch in the design is of paramount importance, so we will go for a positive type of ‘click’ as in the old type of shop tills B that will switch the electrical current on and off whilst at the same time sounding the ocarina note.

23   Saturday 15th April 2017

   Last week it was decided that the keyboards using metal brads to mark the finger positions for the ocarina was not the answer, and so much to the delight of James, we made up a book of these keyboards and gave them to him to practice in his own time, as shown here.


This proved to be a good move because he then showed us he was able to ‘read’ the tune on the keyboard by simply feeling with his finger tips, sounding the notes in his mind, and then he was able to tell us the name of the tune! Besides being able to do this he is now, for the first time, able to practice the tunes by himself!

24  Saturday   27th May 2017

   While things progress developing the technological side of this project, sessions continue with James himself. This session was spent on an alternative way of presenting the raised ocarina tabs to James, that had been suggested by James himself!. This time the tabs are stuck onto tablets set up on a ledge and are free to be moved around. The first part of the tune, was laid out for James, then he is able to work out the tune with his fingers and his ocarina. He found this very enjoyable, and the first lines of other tunes were set up. He was able to continue through the whole session without getting tired.

   This setup was suggested by James as it would allow him to compose a piece of his own music!


   Since our last update on this page a lot has happened as this picture shows. A is the work of Grant of HackHorsham who has managed to put together what looks to be a working keyboard for TOP, but in this case using the arduino, as can be seen on the bottom right hand corner of the keyboard.

   For our purposes the raspberry pi proved to be rather unstable. The keyboard here is set up with ocarina tabs for Dvorak's New World, as James loves this piece of music.

  B Here we see James putting together a tune of his own. Each tablet has an ocarina tab marking on it which James is able to recognise and then play on his ocarina. It was James who came up with this way of helping him read the tabs and then play. This method he finds very entertaining. Click on the facebook link to see James using his method.


26   Saturday  9th September 2017

Click on the facebook entry alongside and watch the video to see how things are developing re the Tablet Ocarina Project