Music provides a unique medium through which people world-wide can communicate, regardless of whether or not one is
familiar with the local language. Music can serve as a very therapeutic tool, capable of helping one to cope with many experiences
in life, both positive and negative. Generally, music is an experience that is shared, and therefore can assist greatly with
the development of essential social skills. So for a Deaf child to access the same educational, social and therapeutic
benefits of music, as their hearing peers, alternate teaching strategies need to be available and implemented.
The human relevance of music is indiscriminate, essential and nurturing for all of us, regardless of any acknowledged
differences. Profound or Total Deafness prevents a person from being able to hear their own voice, music,
environmental sounds, and of course, speech. Accompanying this level of deafness, especially in a developing child, is a significant
speech and language deficit, also leaving the enjoyment of music restricted to visual observation and
what can be physically experienced through the sense of vibration.
Accessing music requires an ability to aurally discriminate sound, along with the necessary skills to interpret those
sounds through language that is recognizable to others. As we think in words and not in images, the medium
of music is a particularly difficult one for Deaf children, especially if the indicators for their musical development
are to be the same as for hearing children.
The unique ‘Dancing Hands Sing’ music program will
incorporate a simple child-friendly interface, enabling students to record, edit and learn to interpret
their own voice/music/instrument/singing samples, and those of others. The wonderful bonus of being able to 'show' students
what their singing or music 'looks' like, is that a visual sound wave is accurate, recording and displaying
exactly what you give it.
The ongoing development of the 'Dancing Hands Sing' music program
of alternate teaching and learning strategies, integrating the use of vibration, tactile support, recording and interpretation
of visual sound waves, musical lights and hands-on peer support, will result in a DVD/CD ROM format as
part of a teaching kit, providing music educators with a unique insight into ways we can better facilitate
the musical experience for children who are Deaf, while at the same time improving and expanding the employment
opportunities which are currently limited for a person with a Profound or Total hearing loss.
Of important benefit for all Hearing Impaired students, a quality outcome of the years of effort by The
Australian Signing Choir Inc., will be the development of an instructional video, with accompanying
Syllabus-based written material, to guide teachers through the murky waters of successfully teaching music
AND singing to Hearing Impaired students.
The aim of presentations of this program
to date has been: to provide a tangible demonstration, explanation and vision of the 'Dancing
Hands Sing' music program for the Deaf, through personal engagement with the audience in a way that would
provide them with an understanding of the issues confronting Deaf people wishing to access music and singing;
the role hearing teachers and individuals can play in helping to overcome these barriers; and the possible employment
opportunities within the music and other industries, for the Deaf, previously believed to be 'impossible'.
above information was authored by the Choir Director)