Project Ends with Successful Conference

Yesterday (Thursday 30 May) saw the culmination of a three-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and undertaken by a team of researchers at the RNCM and University of Liverpool led by Professor Jane Ginsborg (Co-Investigator) and Dr Carl Hopkins (Principal Investigator) respectively, in partnership with Music and the Deaf. The project was entitled ‘Interactive performance for musicians with a hearing impairment’ and has already received the accolade of being included in the RCUK report Big Ideas for the Future (2011).

There was an enthusiastic audience for a one-day conference at the RNCM to celebrate the end of the project and disseminate the findings. Around 50 delegates, many of them deaf or with hearing impairments themselves, came to find out about the project, test the vibrotactile technology developed by the Liverpool researchers to enhance the enjoyment and performance of music through vibration, listen to music performed by hearing-impaired professional musicians (the opera singer and RNCM alumna Janine Roebuck, and the flautist Ruth Montgomery) and be inspired by their stories. The programme included a talk on Beethoven’s deafness by Dr Martin Harlow, a panel discussion of the strategies for interactive performance that are used by and available to musicians with hearing impairments, reports of the findings of the research on interactive performance (RNCM PhD student Robbie Fulford) and potential technological aids (Liverpool PhD student Saúl Maté-Cid), and question-and-answer sessions in which the audience participated eagerly, with the help of two sign language interpreters and two lip-speakers.

Professor Jane Ginsborg says: ‘One of the best things about the day was the willingness with which delegates – particularly those with hearing impairments and those who work with them – shared their experiences of making, and experiencing music.  They’ve given us so many ideas about how we may take this research forward, not only in terms of the vibrotactile technology developed by our colleagues but also for improving hearing aid technology specifically for music and musicians. Among many highlights was the video made by Dr Gary Seiffert and his colleagues to demonstrate that vibrotactile technology can really work – you can see and hear this yourself here.

30 May 2013