Music Performance by people with Hearing Impairments great success

People with different hearing impairments have been able to access free music workshops thanks to funding by Sheffield Hospitals Charity and Arts Council England.

Led by professional musicians Thomas Sherman and Joe Harrison-Greaves, 20 participants rediscovered their passion for music in summer 2018.  Four different groups of participants who benefited from the workshops came together on Thursday 21st March for a final public performance.  They played some of the musical compositions they have created and  invited an audience to join in.

Musician and workshop leader Thomas Sherman explained the success of the project:-

“We have been able to encourage participants to develop a new relationship with the music they are making and hearing.  At first, some participants were focused only on how music used to sound to them and what they had lost.  A key part of the success of the workshops has been the social aspect of making music together, sharing experiences and feeling supported to try new things”.

Mir Jansen, arts coordinator at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals who runs the In & Out of Hospital arts programme says:

Tom and Joe encouraged everyone to try different instruments and techniques and to feel inspired by poetry, paintings and graphic scores – quick scribbles – made by the participants themselves. The musicians supported the participants to interpret these through sound.  The compositions they developed have been amazing and the live public performance was a great success”.

A hearing impairment can often make people feel isolated and anxious in social situations.  These workshops were designed to help people feel relaxed and have fun, reconnect with music and try out different music making techniques.  New musical compositions were created by the participants and recorded in final rehearsals.  These are available to listen to via the special soundcloud page

Titles: Iron Lace, Night Journey, Dancing Images, I’m your man, Spare Cards and Thumb the Clouds

“An amazing opportunity and really sad that is it over.  Tom, Joe and Mir have been wonderful.  Thank you very much” Sue Wormer – participant (pictured)

The rehearsal spaces and musical instruments our participants had access to were generously provided by the University of Sheffield’s Department of Music during their quieter summer months.   Some of the Department’s music students also volunteered in the sessions.

Dr Harriet Crook, lead clinical scientist for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals attended a rehearsal in January and commented:

I was so impressed at the level of confidence and such positive feedback. Listening to the recordings made me feel very emotional as I was just so impressed with what has been achieved in such a short time.”

 The final performance took place at BLOC projects in Sheffield City Centre.  We had around 40 members in our audience and their feedback was fantastic:

A very  enjoyable, creative, imaginative and worthwhile project.  Lewis Noble, patient governor at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

Excellent.  My wife really enjoyed everything about it, from writing the music to performing it. (husband of participant)

Super.  Well worth the funding.  Everyone will enjoy going forward (participant)

Fascinating, enjoyable.  It made you use your imagination and took you to places you wouldn’t ordinarily go.  Lovely people and lovely atmosphere.   (audience member)

It was completely different from any musical event I’ve previously attended.  An excellent enterprise and very enjoyable (patient governor at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals)

Good fun, very engaging.  The musicians did a fantastic job in producing such beautiful sounds from a diverse range of talents and getting people to participate in something that they  had perhaps not previously been invited to do. (audience member)

It was really engaging and musical. I had never considered the use of graphics to act as a bridge between hearing and hearing-impaired musicians.  Thank you. 

Absolutely wonderful!  I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Thank you (audience member)

Absolutely fantastic event.  Amazing achievement of the workshops.  Thank you

It’s lovely here.  I enjoyed feeling the vibrating sounds through the balloon (audience member (deaf))

A very interesting and inspiring event.  Opened my eyes/awareness that hard of hearing/deaf can get involved and enjoy music making.  The first piece ‘A lament for lost sound’ was very apt and a great start.  I suffer from tinnitus and became partially deaf a few years ago.  I can completely understand the send of a sudden loss and the sadness felt when you first experience this loss.  As the workshop (event) grew the music became more exciting and intense.  I also enjoyed the fact that everyone was allowed the get involved with the making of music, to take away poetry that they used to make very original compositions,  the interpreter (BSL) beating time for the drummer and the art works that work  really well on the wall as visual composition.

Loved every minute of all of it.  Really hope something else comes along from it.  Been a great experience. Thank you all for the patience and humour.  (participant)