Ruth Montgomery, professional musician, teacher and visual artist spent a day at Mary Hare Primary as part of a research project she is undertaking in conjunction with the BBC Music Department. Accompanying Ruth was a colleague, Eloise Garland, a professional violinist who is also deaf.
Ruth, herself an ex pupil of Mary Hare, is currently working with the BBC Education on their forthcoming project music campaign, 'Bring the Noise', aimed at teaching 4-7 year olds the basics in music making skills. Ruth is working with the team to ascertain how the content can be tailored towards a deaf audience.
Ruth commented, 'it is a very exciting time to be working with BBC Music to develop resources to inspire the learning and enjoyment of music for deaf children.'
Ruth was born profoundly deaf and started playing the flute at the age of 12. Whilst at Mary Hare, Ruth studied GCSE and A Level Music and began composing. Ruth then progressed to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, graduating with a 2.1 in 2005. Ruth teaches mainly hearing students but says that she enjoys working with deaf children, particularly as she believes deaf children need more role models to show them that they can achieve great things!
Part of the research project that Ruth is working on is based upon the understanding that when children understand the language of music, the listening skills follow on from that. During the day, Ruth worked with the children on listening to low and high sounds and understanding the rhythm of what they were hearing. Many of the songs supplied to her by the BBC were tested on the children throughout the day and culminated in the children joining in with songs and indeed, creating rhyming words of their own.
Ruth said, 'I found the children extremely receptive and engaging and was amazed at some of the good ideas they had. This bit of work has made me realise that to ensure deaf children have full access to music, there have to be some modifications. For example, there needs to be more explanation before the exercise begins such as, what are we looking for? What is the rythm?'
The songs Ruth was working with supplied by the BBC are intended for use in mainstream schools. With some adaptations such as pace of delivery, explaining the task beforehand and making sure the language is understaood by all, the children will pick things up quickly and will be able to follow the entire lesson.
Mr Rattray, Head Teacher commented, 'it is so important to get deaf children to believe they can achieve as well as to get them to have an appetite for music and not to think it is out of their reach. We are working in partnership with Ruth to see what we can do to improve music for our pupils at Mary Hare Primary. I have been very interested to see that the lower ability child has found access to music as easily as the child with high ability, and, that with concentration levels normally very low has been totally engaged with the exercises Ruth has undertaken with them.'