Cellist. Orchestra member. Inspiration.
Music-lover Lynne lives with her husband Paul in North Kent. Born with a congenital limb difference that means she is missing her right arm below her elbow; Lynne has always worked out her own way of doing things and uses her Koalaa prosthetic for a very specific task – playing her beloved cello!
We caught up with Lynne to find out more.
Where did you love of music come from?
I’ve always loved music. My parents could both hold a note, and my grandma had a great singing voice – she could have done it professionally had the times been different. My nephew is also a concert pianist and piano teacher, so I’m not alone in my passion.
My first experience of playing an instrument was a recorder at school when I was around 7. My teacher thought they saw some potential in me, so encouraged me to take up a ‘proper’ instrument and I ended up choosing the cello.
Due to my limb difference, I have used various devices over the years that have helped me in holding the bow - most recently, my Koalaa prosthetic.
How did you first come across Koalaa?
I’ve been involved with a charity called Reach for many years and it was through Reach that I first came across Koalaa.
With the pandemic impacting on many of the usual fundraising activities people might take part in, including the 26-mile London marathon, Reach ran its own ‘Challenge 26’. This encouraged people to think of a fundraising activity they might do virtually, based around the numbers 2.6 or 26.
As part of this, the Reach ORchestRa got together virtually to record a version of Reach for the Stars and I was delighted to take part on cello. We went on to raise more than £1,800.
As a result, the team at Koalaa approached me to see if I’d like to help with the development of a tool that could be used to hold a bow. Since then, I’ve been testing the tool and sharing my experiences and feedback with the development team.
I was very happy to help and if my experiences can encourage others to have a go and see what is possible, then that’s fantastic.
What is your experience of prosthesis?
I didn’t have any prosthesis before I was 8. By then, I’d already learnt a lot and found my own way of doing things. The first one I was given was a cosmetic arm, so it wasn’t functional and was just for appearances. I had one of those till I was 16.
I now have an electronic arm and my Koalaa arm, and I use both for playing the cello.
What do you think of your Koalaa prosthetic?
Before it arrived, I was interested to see how it would work. I’d looked on the website and had some idea but no real expectations.
My first impression was how modern it looked and also how light it was. My electric arm weights 2lbs and because of its shape I prefer to wear longer sleeves when using it. So, for one thing, my Koalaa has big benefits for the warmer, summer months!
I also like that it’s so comfortable and made from soft material. I look forward to showing it off when restrictions are lifted and I can go back to my local orchestra and to playing at church once again.
What would you say to anyone interested in getting a Koalaa prosthetic?
Go for it! Particularly if you’ve got something in mind that you want to do with it.
The team at Koalaa are so good at creating things that are helpful for specific reasons and uses. And I love seeing the photos and reading about all the people who have one and the many different ways they are using them.