Sten Bunne created the Bunne Guitar to find the balance between the person and the instrument. While most people regarded music in care units as entertainment, he saw it as participation and activity.
It all started in the 1980s when Mr Bunne saw the lack of easy-to-play instruments for children and the elderly. For a long time, the elderly experienced music as passive audiences, rather than performers and creators of music. Mr Bunne, who is a music therapist, changed that by creating the Bunne Music Guitar. The instrument is a four-string small guitar that is turned into a ready-made open D major chord. Instead of finger grip, it incorporates the “Swing Bar” — users can easily shift chords by bending a device right or left, which shortens the strings to get new chords. As a result, the elderly could easily learn the instrument and become active players of music themselves. Today, the Bunne Music Guitar is used in as many as 15 countries for reasons ranging from entertainment to therapy.
“All songs and playings had value as entertainment, but I saw a shift towards pedagogics and music therapy”
Mr Sten Bunne, Founder, Bunne Music
With its easy-to-play mechanism, the guitar can be used for teamwork between seniors and staff to accompany a song. A senior will only strum the strings, and the staff will help to bend the Swing Bar to the proper chord position. Alternatively, the elderly could collaborate amongst themselves. This form of collaborative and interactive group activity can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation that the elderly may have.
As an entrepreneur within the cultural sector, Mr Bunne encountered challenges in having to be an “expert” in multiple areas simultaneously, such as creation, economy, administration, and logistics. However, he has always believed that his contribution will make the world a little bit better. He was motivated by joyful comments from users, patients, music therapists/teachers, and children who claim that their lives were strongly affected. As they mentioned, “Now I can really join music playing — at once!”
The Global Bunne Orchestra performed in the World Ageing Festival 2020, choreographed by Sten Bunne.
If there is one thing you would like to change about ageism? What would it be?
I would like to see musical and cultural activities integrated as a true tool of caring for the aged world wide. It annoys me that the overwhelming scientific research since the last 15-20 years about all the positive effects of culture upon health often is ignored by municipals, caregivers, and politicians. I repeatedly meet the poor argument that cultural activities ”cost too much money”. On the contrary, I think that musical and cultural activities really save money. In my eyes, it can indeed be a profitable health-promoting investment that brings joy and more alert self-managing elderly which makes the care work easier for staff.