The Slovenia Times

Music for the deaf



A group of drummers playing African traditional music tried to change that. They've organized a rhythmical, visual and theatrical event called BUmBUs, especially adapted for the hearing-impaired. "We don't feel music only with our ears," claim the members of the drumming group BU - Bobnars United. "We also feel it with our bodies, and we see it with our eyes." The first of the ten events in plan occurred at the School for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired in Ljubljana. The audience, mostly consisting of the young population, first sat on the floor, but soon started to use balloons provided to amplify the vibrations of loud and rhythmic music. Towards the end of the session they were even dancing. The music was supported by electronic images of Africa and its culture and with a dance performance. "Through different media we wanted to help the deaf and hard of hearing to experience music with the senses they have. Thus they should become more familiar with the sound environment," says Peter Purg, the leader of the project. According to scientists it is not surprising that the hearing-impaired compensate their deprivation through other senses. "The brain is incredibly adaptable. In someone who is deaf, the young brain takes advantage of valuable real estate in the brain by processing vibrations in the part of the brain that would otherwise be used to process sound," says Dr. Dean Shibata, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Washington. In this way their experience of music is very similar to what we hear, especially because the nature of vibration is very similar to the nature of sound, he adds. The responses to the event were positive and sometimes even touching. Perhaps it is not so hard to help the hearing-impaired to feel competent in music. Petra Cansak, who witnessed the event, said, "I am deaf, but before that, music meant everything to me. At this performance I have again felt music with my body and my soul."


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