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Orla O'Sullivan's Good Vibrations - an inspiring true tale


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Orla O'Sullivan's Good Vibrations - an inspiring true tale
Updated / Monday, 5 Jun 2017 22:00

Deaf and Visually Impaired pianist and music teacher Orla O'Sullivan, the subject of RTÉ One documentary Good Vibrations.
Producer Christine Thornton writes about her remarkable new RTÉ documentary Good Vibrations, a portrait of Deaf and Visually Impaired pianist and music teacher Orla O'Sullivan.
When RTÉ put out a call for a documentary exploring the experiences of Ireland’s Deaf community, I started thinking about what my life would be like if I became deaf and what I would miss the most.

Music quickly came to mind as it is one of my greatest loves and so it prompted me to wonder how does a Deaf person experience music. Do they ‘hear’ it? If so, how? Can they enjoy it the way I do? Can you learn music if you are deaf?  So much ignorance on my part and so many questions needing answers.

I typed in music + deaf into Google and up popped the name Orla O’Sullivan. Though we are both from Cork, I was annoyed (and a little ashamed) that I had never heard of her. As soon as I started to read about her musical achievements I knew I had to meet her to learn more about her life and work. And if I was lucky enough, she might let me make a documentary about her.

When Orla was six weeks old, she became Deaf and Visually Impaired after receiving life saving medication for double pneumonia.
Her mother Betty was determined that she would be treated the same as her siblings, and would be given all the same opportunities. In spite of her profound deafness, Betty was determined that Orla would talk and so she started to teach her nursery rhymes which helped her speech. Refusing to accept Orla’s profound deafness, Betty would play songs on the piano and would hold Orla’s little fingers on the keys so that she could ‘feel’ the different sounds through the vibrations. From the first note, Orla was mesmerized and this was the beginning of her experience of the sound of music. Little did Betty realize that she had already put Orla on her musical path and future career.

Orla O'Sullivan with her partner Danny and son John Amadeus
I couldn’t believe it when I discovered that Orla went on to not only play classical piano but that today she also teaches piano and keyboard to the hearing and the deaf….and to exam standard. She uses ISL to communicate with her deaf students and speaks to her hearing students. Lessons take hours of preparation for Orla who has to magnify the pages of notes and memorise them.

I loved Orla from our first meeting. Her no nonsense attitude and ‘can do’ approach in spite of the obstacles that have been put her way is not only impressive but inspiring. Her passion for music is palpable and while it gives her great personal enjoyment, it is her determination to share this joy with others in the deaf community that drives her. I was fascinated to learn that in between teaching and parenting her son John Amadeus with partner Danny, Orla has spent the last number of years developing a music teaching tool, Sound Senses. She is currently exploring ways to further refine this audio-visual tactile tool. Her dream is that one day every deaf child or adult has the opportunity to learn music.

People Of The Year Award Winner 2013..


For her dedication. For her innovation.
For her revolutionary method in the teaching of music.

....

See below a clip showing the music teaching revolution that is Sound Senses.



This enhanced senses system enables deaf students to learn music to the highest standard. In 2016 a deaf pupil became the first to achieve a distinction in her first music exam using the Sound Senses system.

This is documented proof that the system works. There will be other successes and more distinctions into the future for Sound Senses. It means that Deaf and other sensory impaired students can now match their non-sensory impaired peers.

THE FRANKFIELD MUSIC STUDIO.


Music Tuition on top quality (Yamaha) grand piano.


And on (Roland) digital piano, and keyboard.


Theory, Aural and Sight Reading Skills (exam standard)

Qualified and experienced teacher (26years)


(Dip. .A.T.C.L , Dip. Y.C.W ( U.C.C), Teacher’s cert CT VCM)


Excellent Exam Results


Exams Optional


Beginners to Advanced


Focused Tuition given for Inter and Leaving Cert Practical Exams.


The studio is located in Frankfield, Cork. Just a two minute drive from the Kinsale Road Roundabout. Parking is free.


INDIVIDUAL LESSON FEE

(One trial lesson for one individual fee can be arranged by special request for new students)
All other current fees are payable by term only. One term can run between 12 and 14 weeks. The terms usually coincide with Department of Education guidelines.

TIME BREAKDOWN PER LESSON


Per 30 MINS __ €22

Orla is available for piano and keyboard lessons in the Cork City area. She is a qualified and experienced teacher and is happy to teach all ages and experience levels. She has been teaching since 1991. Whether you are a beginner or advanced, want to take exams for piano grades or just want to play for fun, Orla can help. Contact Orla for details.


Piano Lessons in Cork,

Exam Performance and Assessments:


This is the link to SENSE 2012 Lecture. It covers the complete event that took place at the London Institute of Physics on November 13th 2012 .
http://www.sense.org.uk/content/annual-sense-lecture

The RTE HANDS ON television interview featuring Orla O'Sullivan was broadcast on 13th January 2013. It was conducted by journalist Eddie Redmond in the TAKE 5 section on Saturday 12th, and repeated on Sunday 13th

Magnificent response to the MasterClass at CIT_CSM, and at the Workshop at CDA.
Thank you.

Orla O'Sullivan DeafBlind music teacher and performer at the Hidden Hearing Heroes Award (Excellence in the workplace) at the Alexander Hotel, Dublin, on Monday 22nd October, at 10.30am.

- Breaking News - New York - Boston.
http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Cork-blind-and-deaf-music-teacher-honor...
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/irishsun/4603997/Deaf-blind-music-t...
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1022/breaking27.html
The South Korean TV Documentary, featuring Young Chan and Orla O'Sullivan was broadcast on South Korean TV on November 5, 2012
See attached edited clip.

See related South Korean link to the Young Chan documentary: 'Planet Of Snail'



On November 13th Orla O'Sullivan was a main event presenter and special guest at the SENSE Conference in London.

Interview with Collette Sheridan – Echo. July 1st 2010

1. Where are you from and what age are you?

A I am from Frankfield, Cork. ( No need to mention my age)

2 Where did your interest in music come from? Do you come from a musical family?

A My musical interest all started from my mother. ( Read the answer in question 3 which explains how it started?) No my family are not musicians but they are all music lovers. My father used to sing as a solo singer in Holy Trinity .

3. I believe your mother played a big role in your music education. Could you tell me about this?

A I remember as a young child , my mother used to teach me lots of nursery rhymes. This helped my speech enormously as my hearing was so low. Also when used to play songs while she held my fingers on the piano keys. I remember being able to ‘ feel’ the different sounds through the vibrations.

This was the beginning of my experience of sounds. I was able to identify the various levels of pitch, tone, and sound. I was too young at the time to realise what a huge important learning step this was.

Also the fact that I learned at a very young age was hugely important because it helped me to release my frustration of not being able to communicate orally.

4. Where did you go to school ? Was music encouraged there?

A I went to St Columba’s primary school in Douglas and Bishopstown Community School . Music was very strongly supported in both schools. I was the first deaf person who did music for Inter Cert and Leaving Cert. In both exams I got the highest scores in the aural tests.

5. What is your level of hearing and sight?

A. My level of hearing is low in the high frequency, but it is normal across the lower frequency and middle frequency. My hearing is in the category of profoundly deaf. As regards my sight, my central vision is damaged but my peripheral vision is perfect.

6. Do you find it frustrating that you don’t have full use of these senses?

A. Of course I find it frustrating , for example if I go to meetings , social gathering weddings concerts where there is no interpreter available , I miss out on all the communication. On the other hand, I went to a show in Belfast called ‘Chicago’ which was signed by a deaf musician Paul Whitaker , it made a huge difference.
7. Do you ever feel bitter that the medication you were given as a baby affected you in the way it has?

A I don’t feel bitter but maybe frustrated from time to time. Bitterness does not change anything. I feel that my positive attitude and the musical gift that God has given me, has made me overcome any negative feelings.

8. You have overcome great obstacles. Are you a very determined person?

A Yes I am a determined person as I work hard and I do not give up until I achieve my goal within my limit. I recently got my Piano Recital examination – ATCL (Associate Trinity College London). It was an extremely difficult exam because my vision is so poor that I had to memorise the entire scores.

9. How did you learn to play so many instruments?

A.I went to different teachers for different instruments – piano, organ, guitar, electronic keyboard, and violin. I discovered that piano is favourite instrument.

10. What obstacles do you encounter in your career?

A. The obstacles are - I can’t drive, I can’t hear the phone nor socialise with hearing people particularly in groups and without the use of sign language. I find that the new technology is a great advantage as regards email, fax and texts.

11. Are you a full time musician or do you teach as well and if teach where and how?

A. I teach part time in my studio in Frankfield. I perform occasionally - this is becoming more frequent as people hear more about me.

12. Tell me about your album, ‘Sound Senses’ ? What inspired it , how long have you been working on it , what does it consists of?

A.I was inspired by a number of other deaf musicians – Flautist Elizabeth Petcu, Percussionist Evelyn Glennie, Paul Whitaker who runs a centre Music and the Deaf based in Yorkshire, and blind tenor Andrea Bocelli.. I attended all of their concerts.

I played as guest for Elizabeth Petcu special concert in Dublin. She encouraged me to go ahead to produce my album, something which I have been thinking about for a while. The album consists of 8 classical pieces by Bach, Haydn, Field, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy, Myers, and a traditional air.

13. What do you hope your audience will be for the album?

A.My album will appeal to a wide range of audience , from quiet listening in the car, background music and public performances.
14. What would be your advice to anyone with sight/hearing problems?

A.My advice to anyone with sight/hearing problems is that everybody has a talent or skill. Discover that talent, keep working hard at it, believe in yourself and eventually you will succeed. And achieve personal happiness.

15. Do you have an ultimate ambition?

A.MY ultimate ambition would be to compose my own piece, and to have a Music Centre for both Deaf and Blind

16. Finally, have you been given adequate support for your disability or is there anything that should be done/made available?

A.When I was a young child , there was little help for hearing and sight disabilities Fortunately this has improved recently with more ISL interpreters, Low Vision Aids – eg Zoom Text on computer , Touch Screen , I phones, digital hearing aids .

The most important issue is that the general public need to be more aware about deafness and blindness. I feel that teaching ISL ( Irish Sign Language) need to be used as a subject in all schools from primary to secondary level. This will help the hearing people to be exposed to sign language and help to interact with the deaf/hard of hearing people, just like it is happening in America and Europe.

More interpreters are required especially ‘close up interpreters’ and ‘ tactile interpreters ‘ for the deaf-blind. There is also a great need to have table menus in all restaurants/bars, fast food , hotels in large prints and braille so as to give both deaf and blind people free access , the same as everybody else.

Interview with Jacqui Corcoran Arena RTE 1 Radio . August 3rd. 2010

Q Can you tell me where and when your interest in music started?

A My musical interest all started with my mother. I remember as a young child , my mother used to teach me lots of nursery rhymes. She used to play songs which held my fingers on the piano keys.. I remember being able to feel the difference sounds through the vibrations.

This was the beginning of my experience of sounds. I was able to identify the various levels of pitch, tone and sounds. I was too young at the time to realise what a huge learning step it was.

Q Was it difficult to pursue the interest, did you encounter many barriers?

It was not difficult to pursue the interest because I really loved playing and spend many long periods every day at my piano.
I did encounter barriers. It was difficult to study due to lack of interpreters and assistance of any kind.

I did a course Music Management and Sound in Colaiste Stiofain Naoifa in Cork - but again because of lack of interpreters , I was not able to study some modules. The college had no policy for helping people with sensory disability. I had to get all my musical scores enlarge section by section.

Whenever I go to concerts , social gatherings and meetings where there is no interpreter , I missed out on all the communications. On the other hand I went to a show in Belfast called Chicago which was signed by a deaf musician Paul Whitaker, it made a huge difference.
There were many obstacles and barriers which prevented me from participating in all the usual childhood activities, like games in the school yard, in the park, cycling ( sight) and P E. I

n my teenage years my social activities were limited and it still is a problem hen ever I am with the able bodied community, as I would need someone next to me to interpreter or sign for me.

The only and one aspect of my life that has sustained and helped me overcome my deafness and visual impairment is my love of music. Through my music I have found freedom – freedom to entertain myself , to feel uplifted and worthy , a sense of achievement and getting noticed when I performed instead of being ‘left out’

Many Deaf and Hard of Hearing have expressed their delight of being able to enjoy my playing - as they can feel the tempo/beat from the piano. They find it relaxing and easy to listen to
This feedback inspired me to make a Cd which benefit people with sight and hearing disabilities and of course the general public will also enjoy this music.

Q You are not totally deaf, you are profoundly deaf, how does that affect your playing?

I am completely deaf without my hearing aids, but with my aids on I can hear all the keys except for the highest frequencies. I can hear these sounds but I depend more on ‘feeling’ the sounds . I started to work out on all the different notes on the piano and I would feel the difference between the high and low frequencies.

Q Can you describe that ‘feeling the music’ what it feels like when you feel the vibration of the piano keys?

To try and describe that ‘feeling of music’ and to feel the vibrations of the piano keys is like this. If you passed by somebody working with a kango hammer, you both feel the vibrations and hear the sounds , so you would use both senses. In my case I think I am using both senses to the maximum all the time, but with the very high frequencies , the sense of hearing becomes less and the sense of touch takes over.

Q you’re lip-reading as I speak to you but what about songs , can you hear the words of songs?

As for songs I would lean my head against the speakers or wear headphones over my digital hearing aids to feel the vibrations , rhythm and sounds..

My one biggest problem is I couldn’t hear the words but can hear the sounds of the words being sung. Subtitles and written texts help me to follow the words being sung.

As for lip reading , the use of both ISL ( Irish Sign Language) and lip-reading is of great help and especially for my low vision. Lip reading only is harder, as some words sounds similar and the movement of a person’s lip looks the same.

For example when a person says fifteen , I would not know for sure if he or she is saying fifty or fifteen. . Using both sigh language and lip-reading , I would know for sure which word a person is saying.

Q Music really is your life isn’t it, you also teach music?

Yes music is my whole life and being deaf and partially sighted does not stop me from doing what I want.

I have been teaching music since 1991. Although all my pupils are hearing , I have taught Deaf children for 3 years which they absolutely love. I hope to have an after school music club to continue teaching the deaf and visually impaired..

Interview with Joe Bollard Dublin City FM-
Sept 20th 2010.

Q At what age did you begin to take an interest in music?

At a very young age about 3 or 4, I enjoyed the rhythm and dance. My mother used to teach me lots of rhymes and songs while she held my fingers on the piano keys. I remember being able to ‘feel’ the different sounds through the vibrations .T

his was the beginning of my experience of sounds. I was able to identify the various levels of pitch, tone and sound. I was too young to realise what a huge learning step this was.. Also the fact that I learned at a very young age was hugely important because it helped me to release my frustration of not being able to communicate orally.

Q Having a hearing disability must have meant more concentration on your part to grasp the rudiments of music.
Yes I had to concentrate a lot. I had to listen so intently to try and identify sounds - notes- and pitch.

But I didn’t really have any difficulty in learning music, only a huge effort in trying to hear it. It is sometimes frustration but never boring , but always great satisfaction when I achieved it.

Q The theory of music might not have been too difficult to grasp, but the practical side must have created problems for you?

The practical side of it was difficult as I had to get the scores enlarged. I had to lean forward to read it and eventually I had to memorise everything. This took long hours of hard work daily . Imagine trying to memorise the three movements of Schubert’s Sonata.

Q Did you find it difficult to convince your teachers , that you could make it as a musician in spite of your dual disability?

In the beginning it was difficult to convince my teachers that I had potential .
It was no fault of theirs , just they never had met anybody with a dual sensory disability. But all of them did their best with me , and for that I am grateful.

That was a long time ago . Within the last ten years, there is now more awareness of deafness and blindness . Cork City College of Music were very helpful in preparing me for all my grades and finally my Dip in ATCL which is a qualification for performance.
Until recently students with my type of disability were denied access to the Cork School of Music , but now they are willing to help. I am now being considered by Cork School of Music. I

hope to further my studies there. This will be an opportunity for the teachers there to teach somebody like me – something they have never done before.

Q Have you any particular preferences in the type of music you play?

I like all kinds of music, but I have a particular preference to classical, light opera, gospel, ballads, and film themes.

Q Have you been inspired by any musician in particular?

Yes I was inspired by a number of other deaf and blind musicians from attending their concerts, listening to their CDs and reading their books/

Beethoven was my first inspiration when I was young and I love his pieces. Blind tenor Andrea Bocelli , Deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie, Deaf musician Paul Whitaker from Manchester who runs his own centre Music and the Deaf, and flautist Elizabeth Petcu who is Hard of Hearing – I played at her special concert 2 years ago in Dublin. She encouraged me to go ahead with my album , something which I have been thinking for about a while.

Q How do you learn a piece?

I have to enlarge the scores , read it up close and then memorise it/
Last May I attended a ‘Sight village’ exhibition in Ballincolig where there was many samples of low vision aids - all manufactured in the UK.
I did find one piece of technology suitable for my needs. This piece ‘Readit Scholar’ will enlarge up to three staves, large enough for me to read without leaning forward and play at the same time. ( A Stave is made up of 5 lines and 4 spaces on which a musical motes are written)

II would really love to get this piece of equipment , but it is so so slow to get anything through the NCBI. I have applied to the NCBI for a grant, which would give me one third off the full price , but they are incredible slow . I have made numerous contacts and have failed to make any headway.

Q Do you read braille music?

No I don’t use braille.
Q Why did you decide to produce this Cd?

I got inspiration to produce my Cd from other deaf and blind musicians who have already produced their own Cds , Dvds and books.

I hope this will encourage anybody who has an idea or a dream, to go and do it. This is for everybody , not just for people with disabilities.

I would not know for sure if he or she is saying fifty or fifteen. . using both sigh language and lip-reading , I would know for sure which word a person Interview with RTE Radio 1 – Arena Show . 2010-08-03

Q Can you tell me where and when your interest in music started?
A My musical interest all started with my mother. I remember as a young child , my mother used to teach me lots of nursery rhymes. She used to play songs which held my fingers on the piano keys..

I remember being able to feel the difference sounds through the vibrations. This was the beginning of my experience of sounds. I was able to identify the various levels of pitch, tone and sounds. I was too young at the time to realise what a huge learning step it was.

Q Was it difficult to pursue the interest, did you encounter many barriers?

It was not difficult to pursue the interest because I really loved playing and spend many long periods every day at my piano.
I did encounter barriers. It was difficult to study due to lack of interpreters and assistance of any kind. I did a course Music Management and Sound in Colaiste Stiofain Naoifa in Cork - but again because of lack of interpreters ,

I was not able to study some modules. The college had no policy for helping people with sensory disability. I had to get all my musical scores enlarge section by section.

Whenever I go to concerts , social gatherings and meetings where there is no interpreter , I missed out on all the communications. On the other hand I went to a show in Belfast called ‘Chicago’ which was signed by a deaf musician Paul Whitaker, it made a huge difference.

There were many obstacles and barriers which prevented me from participating in all the usual childhood activities, like games in the school yard, in the park, cycling ( sight) and P E. In my teenage years my social activities were limited and it still is a problem hen ever I am with the able bodied community, as I would need someone next to me to interpreter or sign for me.

The only and one aspect of my life that has sustained and helped me overcome my deafness and visual impairment is my love of music. Through my music I have found freedom – freedom to entertain myself , to feel uplifted and worthy , a sense of achievement and getting noticed when I performed instead of being ‘left out’

Many Deaf and Hard of Hearing have expressed their delight of being able to enjoy my playing - as they can feel the tempo/beat from the piano. They find it relaxing and easy to listen to
This feedback inspired me to make a Cd which benefit people with sight and hearing disabilities and of course the general public will also enjoy this music.

Q You are not totally deaf, you are profoundly deaf, how does that affect your playing?

I am completely deaf without my hearing aids, but with my aids on I can hear all the keys except for the highest frequencies. I can hear these sounds but I depend more on ‘feeling’ the sounds . I started to work out on all the different notes on the piano and I would feel the difference between the high and low frequencies.

Q Can you describe that ‘feeling the music’ what it feels like when you feel the vibration of the piano keys?

To try and describe that ‘feeling of music’ and to feel the vibrations of the piano keys is like this. If you passed by somebody working with a kango hammer, you both feel the vibrations and hear the sounds , so you would use both senses. In my case I think I am using both senses to the maximum all the time, but with the very high frequencies , the sense of hearing becomes less and the sense of touch takes over.

Q You’re lip-reading as I speak to you but what about songs , can you hear the words of songs?

As for songs I would lean my head against the speakers or wear headphones over my digital hearing aids to feel the vibrations , rhythm and sounds..
My one biggest problem is I couldn’t hear the words but can hear the sounds of the words being sung. Subtitles and written texts help me to follow the words being sung.
As for lip reading , the use of both ISL ( Irish Sign Language) and lip-reading is of great help and especially for my low vision. Lip reading only is harder, as some words sounds similar and the movement of a person’s lip looks the same. For example when a person says fifteen , is saying.

Q Music really is your life isn’t it, you also teach music?

Yes music is my whole life and being deaf and partially sighted does not stop me from doing what I want.
I have been teaching music since 1991. Although all my pupils are hearing , I have taught Deaf children for 3 years which they absolutely love. I hope to have an after school music club to continue teaching the deaf and visually impaired..

Q Talk to me about making a CD , how did that come about?

I got the idea of making a CD when I met and attended other deaf and blind musician’s performances , from listening to their CDs and reading their story.
These musicians who have inspired and encouraged me to make my CD are :
Deaf flautist Elizabeth Petcu from Dublin , Paul Whitaker who runs his own music centre called Music and the Deaf in Yorkshire , percussionist Evelyn Glennie from Scotland, and
Blind tenor Andrea Bocelli from Italy.
I performed at Elizabeth Petcu’s special concert two years ago in Dublin.. I also played in Europe for the Deaf International Dance Festivals ., places like Vienna , Santender and Cyprus.
Making my first CD was very exciting for me and I hope to record another one in the near future. It took about 10 months altogether to do the whole album and I am grateful and fortunate to have Paul Solecki and Christian Martin for being encouraging and patient throughout the whole process.
The CD contains solo pieces from extracts of Bach, Haydn , field, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy , Myers and a traditional air.

Q Can you tell me what your music means to you?

Music is a great healing therapy for the body, mind and soul. I use music as a way of overcoming my deafness and visual impairment.
When listening to a piece say for example Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 or Clair de Lune by Debussy , it transports me to a difference place where I can connect with nature and with spirituality in a way that I can’t find in everyday life.. It gives me happiness and joy and I think in this day and age you can’t beat that.

Q And hopes for the future?

I hope my CD will encourage other people with any form of disability to use their own talents, or take up and learn music. My advice to anyone with a sight and hearing loss is that everybody has a talent or a skill. Discover that talent , keep working hard at it , believe in yourself and eventually you will succeed and achieve personal happiness.
I also hope that both primary and post primary schools will include a disability awareness programme and learn ISL – Irish Sign Language , as a subject. This would help the hearing people to integrate with the Deaf and Visual impaired people.
Restaurants, hotels and bars need to think about having menus in large print and braille.
And , the Deaf and Blind should be given the opportunity to learn music in schools, and share with the hearing people , as this helps them to grow in confidence and express themselves through the feeling the of vibrations and rhythm.

I also hope to compose my own music some day and have a Music Centre for both Deaf and Visually impaired..

Interview with Cork Independent. 2010. FAQ

Q. What advice would you give to other Deaf-Blind people?

A. Do something that you like and are good at.. Use your ability, enjoy it, and don’t give up.

Q. What advice would you give to people in general?

A. To include Deaf-Blind people into society as much as possible.
Learn ISL, have good eye contact , and take your time communicating with them. DONT shout. Speak at normal pitch..
Don’t speak/sign with bright light behind you- your face will be in shadow.

Get the person’s attention before speaking/signing.

If stuck –write it down.

Gestures will help.

Speak/sign close to them within 1-2 metres, for them to see you signing /lip-reading/

Speak/sign clearly and not too fast. Repeat if necessary.
Be patient.

Q. How can people make a better place for Deaf-Blind people?

A. To provide Deaf-Blind awareness programme into public services ,including schools, hospitals etc.
To include large prints and braille into all menus in general.
To use ISL as a subject in all school curriculum (both primary and secondary).

To allow easier access to third level education for Deaf-Blind.
To set up Deaf-Blind Awareness Day and run it annually.
Deaf-Blind in schools should be given the opportunity to learn music in the school curriculum.

Q. What does your music mean to you?

A. Music is a gift from God.
When playing or even listening to a piece of music, I can suddenly be transported to a completely different world, and it’s a world filled with joy and with peace ,and I think in this day and age you can’t beat that.

It inspires and uplifts my spirit and help to overcome my profound deafness and visually impairment. I love learning new pieces daily ,it may take months to work it out ,but it’s a great achievement and it gives great results.

Q. What qualifications do you have?

A. Associate Diploma in Performance for piano ( A.T.C.L) by Trinity College London, Dip YCW (UCC),Teacher’s Cert VCM, Certificate in Music Management, Performance and Sound .

Q. What is your dream for the future?

A. To compose my own music.
To have Music Centre to teach music to everyone including Deaf-Blind,

Cork Independent
Q. Where in Cork are you from?

A. Frankfield, Cork.

Q. Can you hear the music you play?

A. It is worth pointing out that I am not totally Deaf . I am profoundly Deaf. Profound Deafness covers a wide range of symptoms. I can hear the sounds of all the keys on the piano except for the very high frequencies .I can hear these sounds too but I depend more on “feeling” the sounds.

Q. Can you describe what it feels like when you feel the vibration of the piano keys?

A. To describe what I mean that I feel the vibrations of the keys is like this: If you passed by somebody working with a kango hammer, you would both feel the vibrations and hear the sound ,so you would use both senses.

In my case I think I am using both senses to the maximum all the time, but with the very high frequencies, the sense of hearing becomes less and the sense of touch takes over.
I had to work out all the different notes and feel the different between the high and low frequencies and vibrations.
As for songs, I would lean my head against the speakers to feel the vibrations, rhythm and sounds.

My one and biggest problem is I couldn’t hear the words , but can hear the sounds of the words being sung.

Q. Where do you teach and what do you teach?

A. I teach piano and electronic keyboard in my Music Studio, Frankfield.

Q. When is launch of CD on and your recital ?

A. My next performance is on next Friday the 16th in the Clarion Hotel Lapps Quay at 6pm.

A date will be set shortly for the launch of my CD ‘Sound Senses’ and will take place in the same venue.

Interview with Niamh O Mahony – Cork News. July 19th, 2010.

I am from Frankfield. ( don’t mention my age)
I work in my own studio in Frankfield.
For my breakfast I make my own juice – apple, pear carrot and ginger . It gives me great energy and using a master juicer is very handy and faster to make whatever juice you wish to make. Using raw fruits and veg is a lot healthier as there are more nutrients than in cooked foods. Then I would have porridge topped with sliced bananas and soy milk.

After I have a shower , I check all my emails , and reply to them and I try to finish anything that need to be done first and I leave the others till later..

Next , I do bit of exercise , either work on my cross trainer and stretching if its raining , and I always go walking daily in order to get fresh air and sunlight. I would spend from 30 to 1 hour walking on most days.

Then I go over my music stuff for my work and double check anything that I went over the night before .For example , when my pupils exams comes up, I would have to go over all the pieces, theory questions, ear tests, sight reading tests to be sure I have all the answers prepared for each pupil and for all grades.

I also have to rehearse and memorise daily any pieces for any of my upcoming performances and also for any new pieces that my pupils are currently studying.. This of course takes many long hours so I usually split my rehearsal times into morning and evening .

For my lunch I usually have salads, smoked salmon or tuna with rocket leaves , watercress and spinach drizzled with French dressing or olive oil and lemon juice, and with brown bread spread with hummus. I also have alpro blueberry or any fruit yoghurt for desert.
Then I start work at 3 till 9. .

For my dinner at 6 , I would have pasta with veg and pork , or stir fry with lamb chops and rice or poppies. Or I would have baked fish like trout, sea bass, or cod with green peas or any veg and garlic bread..

After I finish work at 9 , I would rehearse the same score that I did earlier that day just to be sure every note is played correctly and I also make sure the dynamics and techniques are perfect. . After that I relax and meet friends for chats etc.

As regards commute , it depends on the weather. I walk a lot as I love it . I use the bus too as its only 5 minutes walk from my house and the bus comes every 15 mines but as there will be a shortage of buses soon , the times may be longer, I use taxis when I am out at night .. Everything is quite to close to my house as regards shopping centre , restaurants, church shops etc so I’m fortunate to where I live.

Yes music is a very important part of my life . It started when I was about 3 or 4 years of age. My mother use to sing lots of nursery rhymes and used to put my fingers on the piano keys . I began to experiment all the different keys and spent hours “ playing” with the keys . Eventually I was able to identify the low and high pitches. .I used to love the rhythm and dance.

I went to formal piano lessons at the age of 5 and I just carried on from there. I learned several instruments down through the years eg organ in St finbarrs Cathedral, electronic keyboard, guitar, recorder violin, but I discovered that piano is my favourite.
There was always music in the house so that how I got used to having music on all the time.

Being deaf and partially sighted has meant that I have had to get all my musical scores enlarged section by section. Then I had to memorise each section and eventually the whole piece. This can be very difficult as it takes hours and hours of practice. Imagine trying to memorise the whole 3 movements of Schubert’s Sonata.
Yes it has made me very determined.

I wanted to release my CD to show my talents and in the hope of encouraging other people with a disability to use their own talents or to “ have a dream “ and it will come true..

It took me about 10 months to do the whole album. NO it didn’t affect my regular routine as I did it at weekends and term breaks etc. It was not difficult process as I found it exciting and I hope to do more albums in the near future.

My family and friends and music teachers have been very supportive along the way and I am very grateful for that.

I feel I have achieved a lot personally and maybe as a role model for people with a disability - don’t wait for things to happen to you. Do it yourself. Its not so difficult . All you need is the will to do it.

My favourite hobbies are playing on the piano, my favourite pieces like Clair de Lune, Chopin ‘s Nocturnes, or Beethoven’s Sonata in C Minor . I love reading biographies of famous people who have made the world a better place .

The last book I read was Andrea Bocelli who is a blind tenor . I admire what he has achieved and I like what he said that being blind is not a tragedy to him so why should it be a tragedy to others.

Also , from reading Evelyn Glennie ‘s story , this has encouraged me to try harder with my music and making my first album, Evelyn is a deaf percussionist who performs over 100 concerts around the world.
Other deaf musicians who has inspired are –

Paul Whitaker . He runs his own centre in Yorkshire called “ Music and the Deaf”. He also has his own deaf orchestra and they last performed at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall last year. He integrates the deaf with the hearing children so as to raise deaf awareness and all this started 22 years ago.

Also Elizabeth Petcu , a deaf flautist from Dublin. She inspired me to make my Cd and I played at her concert 2 years ago in Dublin.

At weekends, I visit my parents, I eat out regularly – I love Italian , Thai Chinese meals. One of my favourite restaurants is Ecos in Douglas , the FarmGate in the English Market and a few places in Kinsale like Man Friday etc.

I don’t drink coffee but only herbal tea like peppermint, green tea, fennel , ginger and lemon tea etc.

I love going to concerts especially in Cork School of Music , Aula Maxima, Cathedrals, Art gallery , opera house, everyman palace. My favourite style of music is classical, ballads, negro spiritual ,gospel, light opera, ,light pop etc.

I love listening to Phil Coulter, Andrea Bocelli, Pavarotti, Hayley Westenra, Cara O Sullivan, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Abba, , pianist John O Connor, Phillip Glass, Eoghan Collins and of course all the past composers like Beethoven, Chopin, Field, Liszt, Brahms etc. .

As regards deafness and blindness awareness , I feel that all schools (primary and post primary) badly need to have disability awareness programme and learn ISL language as a subject .

This will help the hearing to integrate with the deaf more openly in all situations and make life easier for the deaf and blind .

More interpreters are needed especially “close up interpreters” and tactile interpreters” which is very important for the deaf-blind/.visually people.

I also feel that all restaurants , hotels bars need to have “table menu” in large print and braille to allow access for the blind/visually impaired .
Also ,the deaf should be given the opportunity to learn music in schools and outside of school ( private tuition),this will help them to grow in confidence and express themselves through the “feeling” of vibrations and rhythm..

Music is for everyone retrospective of age, race and disability.