Information & Resources
School Playground Equipment And Musical Instruments - Freenotes
Freenotes Ltd is based in Petersfield, Hampshire, and is a family owned business operated by father and son team, Robin and Jody Ashfield.
No stranger to the play industry, Robin had previously formed the successful School Playground Equipment manufacturing company Hand Made Places and in 2006 was awarded the coveted Education Resources Award for Outstanding Achievement in recognition for his contribution to education. Robin strongly believes that play is a foundation stone of learning and our responsibility within the play industry and as educators is to generate the environments where this learning can be achieved.
With this in mind, he started to become aware of an increasing demand for School Playground Equipment specifically designed for sensory play areas and outdoor music areas. Keen to develop a range of instruments that enabled both beginners and practised musicians to experience music making in a new way, Robin began researching musical play equipment and outdoor musical instruments and discovered Freenotes. Richard Cooke, the USA designer had simplified the instrument designs and by using harmony-based scales, opened a way for anyone to experience the deep pleasure of playing music. Robin saw the product and thought there was a great opportunity to manufacture and sell Freenotes in the UK and across Europe, and therefore an exclusive license and manufacturing agreement was drawn up. Freenotes was now established in the UK and able to produce beautifully crafted Outdoor Musical Instruments for Schools , transforming the outdoor space for which they are made.Robin sold his playground business in 2008 to concentrate on Freenotes full time and invited his son Jody to join him and run the business. Both Robin and Jody have a passion and desire that makes Freenotes a personable, reputable, and professional business and working together was a natural choice.
Since then, thousands of Freenotes instruments are now being enjoyed in Schools across the UK and Freenotes School Playground Equipment and Outdoor Musical Instruments are available through over 30 distributors nationwide . A full list of partners, all experts in the world of play, can be viewed on our distributors page.
2010 saw the appointment of Active Play to serve as the exclusive distributor in Australia and New Zealand for the entire Freenotes Outdoor Music product range. Beyond Freenotes' Aussie expansion, Freenotes continued to grow with instruments now available in over 30 countries; bringing Freenotes outdoor musical instruments to children internationally.
"When I first heard the instruments I thought they were unique" said Robin. "Richard assured me that just about anyone could play them well and I therefore figured that they must be the instruments for me!" Well, it appears he was right and now there is some very sweet music to be heard in playgrounds across the world.
Meet The Designer
Richard Cooke studied piano, voice, and trumpet during his early years; but it was not until he discovered playing by ear that music really came alive in him. Richard taught himself to play the flute in college and eventually joined the Paul Winter Consort, one of America’s premier jazz ensembles. With Paul, he designed an adult music camp and set himself to the task of building instruments that make music easy and fun for anyone to play.
Since then, Richard has been building these creations of his own design for fifteen years. Richard has traveled widely and studied the music of many cultures. Freenotes School Playground Equipment and Instruments are related to the beautiful gamelan instruments of Java and Bali, where nearly all people play music. Richard designs his instruments to enable the beginner and expert musician to experience the joys of music making in a new way. By simplifying instrument designs to require no difficult muscular coordination and by using harmony-based scales, Freenotes have opened a way for anyone to experience the deep pleasure of playing music. Freenotes instruments go together effortlessly so everyone can be a vital part of making music.