Our volunteer Will accompanied Rubbena, our lead trainer, to teach Deaf children Emotional Wellbeing and Visual Music; here is a bit about his experience:

“I’m a musician and volunteer at Deafax. Last week I went with our lead trainer, Rubbena, to help teach Deaf children, aged 9 upwards, about rhythm in music and how to write their own rhythm compositions. I’m hearing and don’t sign (although I am about to learn), and I found interacting with these children fascinating.

The day started with Rubbena, talking with three older boys about emotional well-being. All three boys were oral, two also signed, but the third one chose not to. Rubbena wore a microphone to aid him and she used the services of a sign language interpreter. Rubbena touched on the subject of bullying, which led one of the boys to share his experiences of being bullied and how this has left him isolated - he plays on his iPad alone during school breaks. Rubbena encouraged two of the older boys to take him under their wing. They were happy to do so and even shared how they coped when they’d been bullied over their deafness. It was really positive outcome.

After lunch, it was down to me to teach the younger children, with the three older boys, how to play the bongos and drums. I learnt a lot, not just about the differences teaching Deaf children rather than hearing children, but also I gained some insight into what it is like to be Deaf, the different levels of hearing and the use of hearing aids. I soon appreciated how much more I need to know about deafness – I had a tendency to turn my back to point to something on the whiteboard while speaking to the children, and when I’m thinking I look upwards so the children followed my gaze wondering what I was looking at! I realised how crucial it is to look at the children when interacting.

I was really impressed by how well they absorbed the information, which is quite complicated, and how well they participated and played the instruments. I remember learning Music Theory myself, and it was a real challenge! It was great supporting Rubbena and I probably learnt just as much as the children! I am now even keener to learn BSL so that the next time I have an opportunity to volunteer at a workshop I can communicate and interact more effectively.”

Will teaching the session
A student writes music on paper