ExpHand Your Prospects: Drumming record breaker Jason Barnes
Did you know that there is a Guinness World Record for the most drumbeats per minute with a drumstick prosthetic? Well, it's true and the title owner is below-elbow amputee Jason Barnes. Jason's performance set the record 300 beats per minute above that of able-bodied drummers.
Jason was involved in an electrical accident at work back in 2012, which led to the amputation of his right hand. A passionate musician since 14 years old, Jason was not ready to put his drum sticks away.
"After my accident, I dragged my drums out and taped a drum stick to my residual limb – and that's when my life changed forever and I knew that my passion for drumming was not over," he said.
Jason started designing a prosthetic arm that would enable him to pursue his passion for music. After only a year since he lost his arm, Jason joined the Atlanta Institute of Music for Drums and Percussion.
Although Barnes's prosthesis helped him regain some motor skills, his performance as a drummer was beneath his innate talent. In search of ways to improve his device, Jason started working with Gill Weinberg from the Georgia Tech Centre for Music Technology. The fruit of their collaboration is a never-before-seen myoelectric prosthetic arm, which would later make Jason the most rapid drummer in the world!
"Working with Jason was the first time when I could see how much robots can change a person's life. We were able to not only bring back what he had lost but much more than that.", commented Weinberg.
In simple terms, Jason's innovative device picks up electrical signals from his residual limb, making the incorporated sticks react accordingly. The second stick can even improvise and play patterns whenever it sees fit. Overall, both sticks can play up to 40 beats per second.
"The arm has changed my life in many ways because it has given me the ability to use my wrist and fingers again. And not only that, but it has also given me the opportunity to do things that are humanly impossible", said Jason.
Indeed, Jason set a new world record for drumming speed in 2019, when he achieved 2,400 beats per minute. Just to put it into perspective, the fastest drummer with two healthy hands could only reach 2,100 beats per minute!
Jason is currently looking ahead as he aspires to tour around the world with his prosthetic arm. For us, he is a great example of a can-do attitude, who didn't let his disability stay in the way of achieving his potential. Instead, he used his disability to redefine what was humanly possible!
What is ExpHand Your Prospects?
ExpHand Prosthetics' blog series aiming to promote that people with limb loss - and disabilities more broadly - enjoy the same personal and professional development opportunities as everyone else. We take real examples from the real world and share stories with our community in order to motivate and inspire.