Discover more from Pass Along Songs
Singing in Silence - Part I
Making music visual
“I am different, but not less.” - Temple Grandin
This week is dedicated to those who make and enjoy music despite having limited or no ability to hear. I first got interested in this subject when I took an aerobics class at my local community center. My instructor (pictured above) was a 68-year-old woman named Bettie whose positivity and determination not to let others’ perceptions keep her from reaching her goals impressed me from the start.
Bettie was born with severe hearing loss and visual impairments. She spent most of her life communicating through sign language. Teaching ASL was also her primary means of earning a living. “Nobody believed I could go to college or learn anything complicated,” Bettie told me with a mischievous grin. “Well, I showed them!”
In her early fifties, Bettie was finally fitted with state-of-the-art hearing aids that enabled her to attend classes and hear what instructors were saying. At the same time, she lost more than 100 lbs and enrolled in a series of physical education courses. She is now certified to teach aerobics, powerlifting, water aerobics, and Zumba.
When Bettie teaches, she plays loud music with a strong bass beat. When I asked her about it, she told me it makes it easier for her deaf student to feel. She also urged me to check out some of the deaf performers who were making names for themselves. I already knew and loved Mandy Harvey, but Sean Forbes (see below) was new to me. Let's have a listen:
Deafer Than Deaf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5l-2Jo14c
Lines: There’s not much I don’t love about these lyrics, but here are some great lines:
“Something inside me is so intense. Evidently, it’s bringing out my sixth sense.”
“My hands talk dirty, Mama washed em with soap.”
“I got deaf tones but I’m not tone deaf.”
“There are people out there telling you what you can’t do. Never be held back or feel lost.”
Thoughts: I LOVE his rap style (brilliant lyrics), and his irreverence. “I’m the perfect imperfection.” Priceless!!
So tell me…
What did you think of Sean?
What lines were your favorites?
Do you have any experience with the deaf community? Lessons learned?
It goes without saying that my friend Bettie has been a great teacher. Before COVID made it impossible to meet, I was starting to learn ASL. I hope I can pick it up again soon.
Copyright 2021 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.