Prospective student with deaf mother

Alice Painter said: Jul 28, 2015
Springwood, NSW, Australia
6 posts

Hello forum people,
I’ve been lurking on here for a month or two but this is my first post!

I’m a beginner teacher in sunny Australia, just starting to set up my studio from scratch. I’m working on Cert III accreditation for Suzuki (equiv to Primary level). In the last week or so I’ve started advertising on Facebook and had an enquiry yesterday from a mother of a three-year-old. So far, so good. Mother doesn’t drive so she may need to ask her husband to take the little girl to the lessons—but then she mentioned that she (the mother) is deaf. Husband and little girl are hearing. She was wanting to know how important it is that the parent practice partner be able to hear pitch, follow the tunes etc.

Obviously it would be much easier to have the husband be the ‘Suzuki parent’—I suppose what I’m wondering is what the mother can do to help with music practice etc at home. I’m assuming that she is the one who is at home with her daughter the most, and under other circumstances would be the one helping with practice etc.

Does anyone have any experience of teaching a hearing child with a deaf parent? Do I just suggest that the father take on the role? Would it be possible for the mother to still be the Suzuki parent, even if she can’t hear what is being played? The child is 3.5—turning 4 in December.

Christine Clougherty said: Jul 30, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
19 posts

This is such an interesting situation. I looked online to see if there are articles, resources, and in a very quick search, found mostly information for teaching deaf children. But there was one article about a woman who had taken (piano) lessons as a child, with profound hearing loss, had cochlear implants later in life, and tried again to play. I will try to put the link here.

So, if you are willing, perhaps do some research. My inclination would be to have the mom involved in some way. I wonder if it is harder with strings versus piano? Anyone have thoughts on that? Can the mom feel the vibrations? She would be able to put her hand on the side of the piano, but I don’t think you can touch the violin while someone is playing? The mom should be able to clap/count, put on the CD, be at the lessons, encourage the practice time to happen (with dad for now?), help at the recitals (arrange snacks, etc).

Good Luck.

Alice Painter said: Jul 31, 2015
Springwood, NSW, Australia
6 posts

Hi Christine,

Thanks for that link! Very interesting.
I’ve been in touch with the mother again and they’re still keen but she hadn’t had a chance to discuss with her husband yet. I was relieved (I was afraid I’d scared her off!) I’ll wait to hear more and to set up a meeting with them, but I’m intrigued.

I think the main thing would be tuning, for the violin—though I know lots of parents cope perfectly well, even if they are tone deaf… so my feeling is that we’ll be able to make it work somehow. I was thinking it might be useful to have them record lessons as a reference, at least to start with. It would be tricky but I think it would be possible to play violin with someone else touching it—good point! I’ll have to try that! I’ll keep you posted as to how I go.

The other thing that occurred to me is lip-reading during the lesson—I’d need to be careful to turn towards her.

Jodie St Clair said: Aug 4, 2015
Jodie St Clair
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Eugene, OR
16 posts

I believe a colleague of mine, Erica Boland taught a family for awhile that both parents were deaf. So much of what the parents do at the beginning is visual. Checking for good posture and making sure that everything is in the right place. I would think that the hardest part would be tone production. However, be very cautious on assuming what this mother can and cannot do. Every parent has to learn how to work with their child. Even parents who are musicians themselves! Remember that the mother has found ways to work with her young child thus far and should not be underestimated.

If you would like to get in touch with Erica, you could search the member directory here, or email me and I’ll get you connected. :)

Eugene Suzuki Music Academy

Alice Painter said: Aug 19, 2015
Springwood, NSW, Australia
6 posts

An update:
We finally found a time that worked for both parties, and had our second lesson today. We have one very happy little girl with a very pink box violin, as of this afternoon :)

In the end it’s the Dad who has taken on the music lessons, and he seems extremely supportive, though quite time poor. Sadly he said today that the mum has basically said she doesn’t want to be involved at all. I’m a bit sad about that, since it was her idea to start—but I suppose I don’t know the full story. Hopefully she’ll come round later on :) I’ll just keep trying to support them all.

In the meantime we shall have fun together!

Anne Bowman said: Oct 7, 2015
Anne BowmanTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Plano, TX
8 posts

My audiology expert adult Suzuki students suggests: If the mother is the primary caregiver with time to practice with the child, then I think she can be effective as least through Book 1. I think the deaf mother would be a VERY good visual monitor so should very well could monitor the “correct notes” by watching. She could also be very aware of the timing if allowed to watch the teacher model the songs correctly. Detecting correct dynamics will be harder but she may actually correctly note that based on visual cues also (possibly hand shape or muscle changes). For the more advanced music, she would likely need her father or grandparent to assist in order to hear correct timing and notes.

It will be VERY IMPORTANT that the mother sit close to the child during the lesson to see ALL THE HAND movements on the keyboard. It will also be important if the father doesn’t stay, to establish a communication system with the mother. She may be a good lipreader or there may need to be a visual communication system. Of course an interpreter would be ideal, but other alternatives would be to write the communication or have a dictation system such as even the “voice texting” option on most cell phones in order for her to follow what the teacher is asking her daughter to work on.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services