Testing Session at MERL

Ahead of the Autumn workshops planned with Reading College, Kate, Nick and I have planned a session with a group from Mencap Reading to test out some ideas and Nick and Craigs new sound storing boxes (to be revealed!).

Here is how we have planned the day:

Attendees: 3 researchers (Kate, Nick, Kassie), 6 Mencap co-researchers, 2 support workers.

When: Thursday 5th September – 10.30am – 2.00pm

10.30am: Welcome Talk: Introductions from everyone, explain the day ahead, short    tour of MERL.

11am: Recognising Sounds: Scavenger hunt where co-researchers hunt to find objects that make the sounds they can hear from the device.

12pm: LUNCH: Picnic lunch inspired by the collection at MERL.

12.40pm: Making Sounds: Sound making workshop where we will create and record sounds using instruments to accompany video clips from the rural past.

1.50pm: Review: Review of the day. Quick questionnaire for co-researchers.


Designated time: ½ hour

Materials: Tour guide, ourselves, Ethics/consent forms

Methodology: Welcome participants, introduce ourselves and ask them to introduce themselves/be introduced. We can say quickly what to expect from the day and give out easy read schedules. Then, short tour of the MERL by a guide lasting no longer than 20 minutes.


Designated time: 1 hour

Materials: 3 specially made sound boxes with 6 buttons responding to 6 pre-recorded sounds, camera, paper/pen, printer, 3 cameras

Prep: Pre-record sounds that relate to objects in MERL and save them onto the SD card for use in the sound box.

Record sounds for: steam engine, sheep, metal traps, milk bottles clinking, invisible horse, threshing machine

Methodology: Co-researchers have just been introduced to the museum by the guided tour. Give each pair a sound box and show them how to play the sounds we have previously recorded. Then, ask them to see if they can find the objects matching the sound in the museum. Once they have found them, ask them to draw or photograph the object/machine which we will print out.


Designated time: 40 minutes

Prep: Prepare lunch: bread and butter, (ham), cheeses, chutney, apple, salad, tomatoes, grapes – tea and coffee

Eat, talk over concept of ploughman’s lunch in relation to farming/rural life.


Designated time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Materials: Various objects that can be used to create sound, projector, computer, sound recorders, speakers for play back, paper/whiteboard, markers

Prep: Establish video clips to be used

–       Ploughing (good seed on the land) or youtube clip

–       Cheese making from MERL archive

–       Apple wrapping from archive

–       Sheep shearing

Methodology: Introduce co-researchers to the silent video clips of rural life. Ask them what is happening (possibly have large paper to write down the sequence of what they say), then, introduce them to the objects/instruments we have collected and how we can make sounds with them. Ask them to think about creating sounds that can accompany the silent video to enhance what is happening. Then, recording the sound they make is an option they may prefer, or they can play the sound live alongside the silent clips. We can video this so the group can have a memento from the day if they wish.


Designated time: 10 minutes

Materials: Questionnaire, camera for recording short interviews

Prep: Decide on what questions to ask relating to aims of the day.

Methodology: Thank co-researchers for their time, ask them individually, with assistance from the support workers their opinions on the day and other questions we will have prepared.


About kassieh

Art and Psychology Graduate Technical Consultant for the Living Archive Project
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