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Deaf Awareness Week: Celebrating Love and Trust

Between May 6th - May 12th this year, Deaf Awareness Week isn’t just about raising awareness; it’s about starting a movement. The aim is to create a movement of love, grounded in trust, and is about championing inclusivity and embracing diversity, where everyone feels valued.


For many, the notion of a musician without hearing may seem paradoxical, yet the world has witnessed remarkable individuals who have defied expectations, showcasing their talents on global stages. As a way to embrace diversity and champion inclusivity, we've collated a group of musicians from North America to Africa, Europe to Asia, and beyond. Here are just a few deaf musicians (beyond Beethoven) who have shattered stereotypes, proving that the language of music knows no bounds.


In this exploration, we delve into the lives of musicians and artists from each continent who have overcome the obstacle of deafness, offering insights into their journeys, the barriers they've faced, and the profound lessons they impart to educators, musicians and music-lovers worldwide. All videos are suitable to use in class!


Europe: Evelyn Glennie

Hailing from Scotland but embraced globally, Evelyn Glennie is a percussionist renowned for her virtuosity despite profound deafness. Feeling the vibrations through her body, Glennie's sensitivity to touch and sound frequencies enables her to play. Her achievements include Grammy Awards, collaborations with leading orchestras, and advocacy for music education. Glennie's story underscores the importance of embracing diverse ways of experiencing music, highlighting the potential for tactile communication in musical expression, and beautifully brought to life in the picture book 'Listen' by Shannon Stocker. Buy Here



America: Sean Forbes

In the bustling music scene of Detroit, Michigan, Sean Forbes has emerged as a prominent figure, breaking down barriers with his unique blend of hip-hop and sign language. Born deaf, Forbes was drawn to music from an early age, using his experiences and challenges as fuel for his creative expression. Through his electrifying performances and advocacy work, Forbes aims to raise awareness about deaf culture and promote inclusivity in the music industry. His story exemplifies the transformative power of music as a tool for empowerment and social change.



Asia: Soojin Han

Hailing from South Korea, Soojin Han is a virtuoso violinist whose talent knows no bounds. Born completely deaf in one ear, Han discovered her passion for music at a young age, drawn to the melodic strains of the violin. She says that being deaf on her left side isn’t an issue, but admits it took a while to figure out how to work with it. Observers of Han's performances are struck by the profound emotions evident on her face as she plays. Her deep connection to music, often described as "healing," stems from personal experience. As a child, her mother's music was a source of comfort during illness. Today, audiences echo this sentiment, expressing how her music possesses a transformative power, evoking feelings of healing and rejuvenation.



Africa: Lal Daggy

From the vibrant streets of Nairobi, Kenya, Lal Daggy emerges as a force to be reckoned with in the world of hip-hop. Deaf since birth, Daggy discovered his passion for music at a young age, using his innate sense of rhythm and poetry to craft powerful verses that resonate with audiences around the world. Through his music, he shines a light on the experiences of the deaf community and advocates for greater representation and inclusion in the music industry. Daggy's story is a testament to the power of art to create social change and to amplify voices that are often marginalised.



Australia: Patricia Morris

Established in 1997 by Patricia Morris-Banjo and her late friend Priscilla, the Deaf Indigenous Dance Group was created to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Patricia, a member of the Stolen Generations, had been dancing since she was a young girl, the only First Nations person and one of two deaf people in her jazz and ballet classes. She also regularly attended the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival where she was able to maintain contact with her extended birth family.



As educators, musicians, and music listeners, the stories of these remarkable individuals challenge us to reconsider our perceptions of ability and limitation. They remind us that true musicality lies not in the ears, but in the heart and soul. By embracing diversity, fostering inclusivity, and promoting accessibility in music education and performance, we can create a world where every voice, regardless of hearing, can be heard and celebrated.


For more ideas on studying deaf musicians, don't forget to check out our resources on Ludwig Van Beethoven over at https://www.musicianofthemonth.co.uk/cycle-b.


For more information about Deaf Awareness Week, go to the RIND website: https://rnid.org.uk/information-and-support/deaf-awareness/deaf-awareness-week-2024-save-the-date/

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