This #DM20 commission- a new composition written by deaf people for deaf people (and everyone else) – is the first time I have been responsible for the complete planning and delivery of a project of this scale. Over the last couple of years I have, without really noticing, moved from being a musician who did a bit of workshopping on the side to a professional educator who works hard to find time to keep his chops together and his band moving forward, but regardless of this change, the administrative side has been left to the wonderful project managers at Drake Music and other organisations.
Recruitment, then, is something I have always taken for granted. That was until two weeks before we were due to come together to actually Make The Music, and I only had four potential participants. How did I manage to find myself with a full room of wonderful participants in just a few days?
NDCS and local deaf groups – I had originally got in contact with some of the big deaf organisations with minimal results. The exception to this was the National Deaf Children’s Society, through their Inclusive Activities office Bryony Parkes, who turned me on to the many local deaf organisations in Greater London. Through these networks I received enquiries from a dozen parents of deaf children, and suddenly my original idea of working with teenagers and adults was broadened to include five, six and seven year olds- possibly the most consistently creative segment of the entire population!
Twitter – A 140 character medium that continues to surprise me with it’s reach. A few promotional tweets picked up by some big tweeters and organisations and I was suddenly in a loop and receiving emails. I even heard from other facilitators who wanted to volunteer on the project!
Deaf Rave – A group of DJs, producers and MCs who have been organising club nights for deaf people for years, these guys offered advice on deaf culture and politics, as well as joining the project as participants.
Pre-workshop meetings with Troi and Matt from Deaf Rave, as well as participant Mikko (who has just brought out his own album of experimental electronica) taught me some important lessons: There are no universal rules when it comes to which frequencies or timbres are better picked up by hearing aids, and that hearing aids often create feedback when used with headphones and some instruments. They also talked about the politics surrounding cochlear implants, and how they (in Troi’s opinion) are killing deaf culture, and also that there is a big different in sound between analogue and digital headphones.
Next step… making the music!