Bumblebeats is an early years music, movement and storytelling program for children, that blends music with new technologies to support early childhood development. Founder Michelle Lockwood wanted the program to be ‘current’ and use the latest technologies to help ignite children’s imagination. After a lot of research on the internet she stumbled across the Apollo Ensemble and contacted us to discuss the possibilities.

Michelle's main aim was to find an application that would allow her to create bespoke sound effects to suit the variety of music sessions and stories that made up the Bumblebeats Program. We asked her to explain why she ended up choosing Ensemble.

Buzzy bee logo for Bumblebeats

Can you explain how you went about choosing equipment for the project?

Right from the start, Mark’s help and support was second to none. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the Music Technology and Education Sector and was eager to help provide the best solution to meet my needs. We had an initial meeting where he showed me the Ensemble software and let me navigate around to see if it would meet my intentions for the Bumblebeats Program…I was sold!

What attracted you to the Ensemble software?

For me, the main strengths of the software are the bespoke element and how easy and quick it is to operate. Other music software I have used tends to have very rigid approaches to music making and you are limited to what you can create. However, the options with Ensemble are limitless and you can create, build up and save a collection of your own bespoke themes.

You're working with very young children, ranging from 0 to 5 years old. How do they control the sounds?

Ensemble offered a range of options, but we managed to narrow it down quickly as I wanted the hardware to look fun and be really simple to operate even for babies. I didn't want cables to get in the way, so the SimplyWorks wireless switches from Pretorian quickly became the front runner.

I ended up choosing the larger switches (the SimplySwitch 125) to provide a bigger target for curious hands. The children love the bright colours and how touch responsive the switches are. Crucially they are also very robust and hardwearing - I have had babies in my classes throwing them on the floor and they still work fine with no signs of wear and tear. Even better, the switches are really cost effective, so I was able to purchase six of them!

So does this setup solve your problem?

The combination of software and switches have provided me with an inexpensive but highly effective solution, helping me to realise the aspirations for the Bumblebeats Program. I now have a modern and fun music program that allows babies and children to interact with music software, trigger sound effects during storytelling and ultimately bring the program to life.

Have you found any other uses for the kit?

I now use the software and switches in Primary School settings as well and it really does enhance the learning of all children. It is a great asset to have during a school assembly as children can interact with the theme by triggering sounds and even images.

I also set up bespoke themes in a variety of subjects. If children are learning to re-tell a particular story, I often set up appropriate sound effects. I then get the children to trigger these off throughout the story to help ignite their imagination. I even get the children to create and record their own sound effects, using musical instruments, which they then play back through the Ensemble Software.

So you're happy with your choice?

I would highly recommend the Ensemble Software and Pretorian switches as they have provided a solution above and beyond my expectations. Moreover, Mark has been a pleasure to work with and is a true professional and I would highly recommend his services.

Michelle Lockwood

Michelle is a musician, teacher and founder of Bumblebeats. She is also a Specialist Leader in Education – Music (NCTL).

Key pieces of equipment


Wireless switches and USB receiver.



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