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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 142 | November 1, 2009|


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Sounds & Rhythm

Music- A Universal Freedom

Compiled by Nazia Ahmed

CAN you imagine a life without music? Ever wondered how your days would be if you never had music accompanying you in your car, or in the gym while working out, at a party, when you fall in love or when you want to hum some tune in your loneliness? Seems a bit scary doesn't it?

Music is our freedom. Without which we feel incarcerated in a cage. So how do deaf people live their lives without this absolute freedom?

Deaf people sense vibration in the part of the brain that other people use for hearing which helps explain how deaf musicians can sense music, and how deaf people can enjoy concerts and other musical events. "These findings suggest that the experience deaf people have when 'feeling' music is similar to the experience other people have when hearing music. The perception of the musical vibrations by the deaf is likely every bit as real as the equivalent sounds, since they are ultimately processed in the same part of the brain," says Dr. Dean Shibata, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Washington. These musical vibrations are, he believes, likely to be "every bit as real" as actually hearing the sounds.

The enjoyment of music by deaf people has been overlooked for too long and the findings appear to support the experiences reported by deaf people. There are a lot of ways to improve deaf access to music and help people enjoy and understand it as much as the hearing population. Some of the techniques and ways to connect deaf people with music:

Feel the music
The most successful techniques are relatively new and let deaf people 'hear' the music through certain frequencies and vibrations. Scientists have found that the part of the brain most people use for hearing and processing sound is able to process vibrations that deaf people are exposed to and let them understand the music this way.
A Canadian university has developed a chair that lets you 'hear' the rhythm of the music using your skin.

In the past deaf people have 'heard' music by holding a hand to the speaker and feeling the vibrations of the bass but this new chair has 16 in-built speakers and scientists claim deaf people can feel the frequencies of several instruments using their skin.

Hook up your MP3 player
If you asked people to name the group most unlikely to have an iPod, it is guaranteed that they would mention the deaf community. But while it sounds odd, many deaf people have cochlear implants which you can plug your iPod into the back of using a special cable.

Sign the music
A less technological approach is to simply sign the lyrics of the music and convey a sense of rhythm. Whilst basic this still gives deaf people better access to music. However, some choose to push the boundaries and try and introduce additional emotions and musical meaning when signing lyrics. Although good teaching techniques attribute to the ability for hearing impaired people to perform musically, practice and support are equally important. Music provides an outlet to the hearing world and allows interaction between the deaf community and the hearing community. Music is not just about singing or listening in the deaf community; it assists in socialization, learning language acquisition, harmony, melody, and expression. Music provides another form of learning and to me music seems to be a highly valuable experience to the hearing impaired.


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