BBC National Orchestra of Wales offers concerts for deaf people

Freelance musician Andy Pidcock explains some of the techniques used to help deaf people experience music

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The BBC National Orchestra of Wales' latest concerts have been designed especially for an audience who cannot actually hear them.

Children, young people and adults who are deaf, deafened and hard of hearing to were invited to experience a full symphony orchestra in Cardiff.

Youngsters were able to sit among the players for the concerts.

They could also touch instruments to experience the sensation of music without being able to hear it.

A special piece was composed by children and performed during the concerts, after members of the orchestra staged workshops for the pupils in local schools.

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I think there's an ethereal quality that music has”

End Quote Andy Everton Trumpeter

Not all of the children attending the concerts had lost their hearing.

Many had no hearing loss at all, but were also given the opportunity to appreciate the music through their other senses, by feeling the vibrations or seeing a large visualisation of the performance on a big screen.

Andy Everton, a trumpeter with the orchestra, came up with the idea of a concert that was designed to raise awareness of deafness.

"People often think it's just a vibration that deaf people can hear. I don't think it's just that - I think there's an ethereal quality that music has," he said.

"I often use the analogy that if you go into a room after there's been an argument and there's nobody there, you know that there's a very odd feeling in the air.

"And I think that's what it is with music - it taps into the music."

Important addition

The music in the concert showcased the different instruments of the orchestra, and demonstrated musical concepts including pitch, tempo and dynamics.

The theme tunes to Doctor Who and The Apprentice were played, alongside classical pieces including Copland's Hoe-Down.

Suzanne Hay, the orchestra's education and outreach manager, said: "These concerts are a really important addition to our outreach programme.

"We're aiming to proactively reach deaf, deafened and hard of hearing adults and children by providing an experience that's both accessible and fun."

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