Musical Play Equipment

Musical Sculpture - Musical Play EquipmentI’ve been creating musical play equipment / musical sculptures since 1992.   It was a radical idea back then, which over time has moved right into the mainstream of interactive play equipment.   They can be musical pergolas, sound gardens, sensory/sound trails – for nursery, infant, primary and special needs children.   The musical instruments are set in beautiful oak frames. For more information on the instruments please click here. To see a video of nursery children with musical sculpture click here.

Since 1992 I have successfully installed musical sculptures in more than  49 special schools, 67 infant and primary schools and 21 nursery schools all over the UK and beyond.   For a full list of works click here. 

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My work embodies the twin passions of traditional British oak timber framing and creating various tuned percussion instruments to make music outdoors for all schools.   I offer unrivalled personal service at competitive prices. For more information on prices contact me.  As a designer I’ve always had a lot of fun with the oak framework for the outdoor musical instruments.  They have a beautiful presence by their very nature that subtly ages through the seasons.  They are musical sculptures in the sense of being a visual and tactile feast for the senses as well as through the beautiful sounds they produce.

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We thank Eliot Baron for sharing his wealth of experience with us and commitment to the success of our project at Burlington.

Mary Arthur – Music Coordinator
Burlington Infant and Nursery School
New Malden, Surrey.

I think of the Musical Sculptures as creating Sound Gardens, even in the whirl and din of a school playground – somewhere where the sound can grow and blossom.

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As a timber framer I’ve introduced curved pieces of oak into the designs.   This is a unique approach and creates a unique aesthetic.   Instead of using the curved timbers as corner braces to stiffen a building I’ve matched the curves to the natural progressions in length or size of the musical elements – this then gives the shape to the framework (the sides of the double oak archway with touch-chimes are a good example).  I’m a great believer in form following function and gladly include beauty as a function.   We wouldn’t be living in such a beautiful world if that wasn’t the case.   My beautiful musical sculptures can brighten up and enhance any environment.

The music coordinator at Langstone specified the instruments and tunings for their sound sculpture.   This is what she says about their ‘lovely musical play area’.

Outdoor Musical Play area

Langstone Musical Sculpture

Langstone School have been delighted with the high quality outdoor musical play garden provided by Mr Baron.  The handmade components are both aesthetically pleasing as well as durable.  The children have all enjoyed experimenting with the equipment.  The slaptubes in particular have provided hours of fun.  Listening skills have been developed through the microtonal xylobars and larch marimba.  Children have also learnt about the pentatonic scale through slaptubes, and aluminium chimes.  Everything is very accessible and child friendly.  Thank you very much.

Carved Oak Butterflies

For more articles, interviews and testimonials about this work please click here.

To make the oak framework and the instruments even more sculptural I use large curved blades of oak as posts – freestanding or part of a frame.   The generous sides of the blades offer two blank canvases for large scale carving of children’s drawings – preferably on any theme of the ‘natural world’. Langstone Primary’s recent sculptural musical garden featured carvings of butterflies, millipedes, snails and other creatures.

painted carvingsI have a wonderful ability and talent for taking the children’s drawings and giving them new life as permanent relief carvings on the oak.   After carving they can be coloured with enamel paint, or varnished with marine varnish.   Highlighting can be done withglitter nail varnish and colour.   Eyes can be buttons, glass beads or drilled holes.   The finished piece has a life of its own, is unique and much treasured by the children and the school.

Our instruments are made especially appealing to the children, as they have etched on the oak frame, some of their own art work – lions, birds, fish, painted while listening to the Carnival of the Animals.

Jo Hodgett, Music Coordinator, Newington Infant School, Ramsgate, Kent.

I’m very happy to respond to client’s ideas about how this work can be taken in new sculptural directions for their projects.  Please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for creating such a beautiful set of touch-chimes for our walled garden. Pupils and staff love them and incorporating the pupil’s designs makes it all the more special. A wonderful addition to outdoor teaching spaces, highly recommended.

Claire Bullock, Head of Autism Centre, Pembroke School

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