How does a deaf person enjoy music? How can they perform a song if they can't hear?
We have recently enjoyed of one of the most praised sign language performances at the Super Bowl, and many questions have emerged from hearing people.
Justina Miles, a deaf performer, shared with the audience (both deaf and hearing) a drop-jaw American Sign Language (ASL) performance for Rihanna during the pre-game and halftime Super Bowl shows. Know more here.
After this, many of you have asked how a deaf person can perform music.
Firs of all, any outstanding work involves lots of time and effort. Lots of hours reading the lyrics, studying the artist, their movements, how they perform..., and that is just the starting point!
Listening to music involves more than just ears. Deaf people can sense vibrations in the same part of the brain that others use for hearing.
Deaf performers internalise the beat/rhythm of the song in the core of their body using the vibrations of a surface – this could be for example the speakers or the floor. It is called "feeling" the music. Read here our article "How does a deaf person dance?".
Apart from that, and depending on the level of deafness, deaf performers might have a hearing interpreter maybe sitting in front of them and facing them, to give them visual cues to let them know when the music has started, if there is any change on the lyrics etc....
In this case, Justina is deaf herself, and her first language is ASL (American Sign Language). So, being deaf, plus lots of hours of practise, her high-energy and natural talent, made her the best person to perform this show for the deaf audience.
We cannot praise her work enough, bringing music to a Deaf audience and enhancing the experience of the hearing viewers. It was a wonderful visual display for all who saw it!