The benefits of music education in promoting cognitive skills and creativity in children are well documented.
Now under the leadership of Elena Rostropovich, a unique program based at the National Institute for Deaf Children (INJS) in Paris, France, offers deaf children the chance to enjoy these same benefits.
With the opening of a music room at INJS on February 7, 2013, approximately 230 deaf students now have access to music through vibration, visual and other sensory stimuli that do not depend on the ability to hear sound.
“The research underscores the untapped potential of deaf children to benefit from music education and encourages us to create opportunities for them to access the world of music,” said Elena Rostropovich. “The program at INJS will serve as a model for similar programs for deaf children, which AER plans to put in place at other public and private institutes, in France and abroad.”
“Deaf children need not be excluded from discovering the world of music and can reap the lasting benefits of music education, including improved cognitive skills and emotional well-being,” said Elena Rostropovich, whose charitable organization AER was supported by the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation and the Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy Group in partnering with INJS to create the specialized music room.
For the opening ceremony, Elena Rostropovich was joined by Madame Bernadette Chirac, Jean-François Dutheil, Director of the INJS, Armand de Boissiere of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, and Jean-Paul Claverie of the Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy Group.
The specialized sound system and acoustic design of the music room maximizes the ability of the children to perceive sound.
Musical instruments, audio equipment (consoles, players, headphones, amplifiers), vibratory equipment (transducers, amplifiers, adapters), video and light hardware (spotlights, controllers, screens, LED), and sound control devices invite children to explore a new way of learning about themselves and their environment.
Specially trained music education teachers guide children as they learn skills previously thought unattainable.
Research on the impact of the perception of sound and rhythm on deaf children who were performing poorly in school showed that the students developed greater self-confidence and performed significantly better in their studies.
The example of two well-known musicians further confirms the musical potential of deaf children: The Scottish musician Evelyn Glennie, deaf since the age of 12, was able at the age of 15 to enter the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London and to be recognized as one of the best percussionist in the world.
Lloyd Coleman, a young English musician, born blind and deaf, became a composer at the age of 9 and virtuoso clarinettist. At the age of 17, he achieved his dream and performed as conductor at prestigious BBC Proms Festival at the Royal Albert Hall.