Autism, music therapy and the scope of Skoog – Dr John Biddulph

Dr John Biddulph talks about his experience using Skoog as part of his work as a freelance Autism consultant and trainer providing  specialist music resources. John is a visiting tutor for a Postgraduate Certificate course in Asperger Syndrome run by the NAS and Sheffield Hallam University.

(Skoog 2.0 is available online via and in selected apple retail stores)

Here is a free PDF download with some tips from John on making music with children with Autism.

Over to you John:

“I have spent many enjoyable hours, in fact many enjoyable years engaged in composing and performing work with children using music technology and my special interest is working with and developing the potential of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders using sound.

Providing an accesible and flexible way of controlling sound is fundamental to enable children of all ages (the oldest I’ve worked with is 72 years) to touch sound without the need for specialist musical skills and yet intuitive instruments are by their very nature extraordinary in their capacity to enable the user to gain and develop specialist skills almost without realising it whilst they are engaged in the most important part of the process, the expressive and creative control of sound. So you can imagine my delight when, one day, Skoog materialised in my music workshop.

safe_image-php-4Over the years I have used all kinds of music interfaces, software and electronic devices. A device that controls  MIDI through an interface that looks more like you want to befriend it rather than it’s going to take several years to perfect your technique on it: miraculous.

I tend to use sounds chosen specifically   for a child (possibly based on special interests)  and these are often located on a sampling keyboard     (many of the children are amazing at recognising  precisely where sounds  are  located  on  a  keyboard) Sounds such as mountain   streams,  steam  trains,   Tibetan  singing bowls  are  used. The  use  of  non-pitched sounds removes the requirement for ‘traditional’ music techniques on the keyboard.

So imagine the scope of Skoog. (Available online via the Apple Store)

Some autistic children love the soundscapes and complex layers of sounds created by a computer or synthesiser and this is particularly interesting in terms of how the sounds are controlled by people with autism. Maybe the common notions of ‘what is composing’ or even ‘what is music’, have to be suspended in order to appreciate this ‘new’ world of sound where established and long standing musical devices are not used and more detailed exploration of sound quality comes to the fore sometimes over a considerable period of time.

Skoog offers access to this sound world like no other device I have used before and believe me, I have used a lot!”

(John Biddulph)

Skoog 2.0 is available today on, and in selected Apple Stores across the UK (and EU) retailing at £199.95.

Learn more about Autism Outreach, a specialist independent organisation in the field of autism, run by John here:

You can learn more about John here:

Or why not discover how Craig Smith at Autism Spectrum Australia is using Skoog and Lego to engage students in his school.

As a teaching tool, Skoog supports both free and more structured activities. Building on the success of Skoog in play and improvisation, the team at Autism Spectrum Australia has created a unique new teaching framework that they are calling Lego music therapy. “The focus is on students composing and performing a piece of music using chance based techniques, with a goal of developing social communication skills throughout” – Craig Smith FIND OUT MORE


Here is a free PDF download with some tips from Dr John Biddulph on making music with children with Autism.

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