Hearing Lost - but not the Sound of Music
By Karen Kraskow, M.A., M.S.W.
“If you lost your hearing, could you find music again? Could music find you?” That is the question posed at the opening of Lost and Sound (dir. Lindsey Dryden, UK), a film of the ReelAbilities Film Festival. Annually in the spring, at the JCC (76th and Amsterdam Ave.) and 31 other locations in NYC, LI, and Westchester—as well as 13 cities in the US—we are treated to eye-opening films which bring us closer to a way of thinking that includes sponsors and celebrates the lives of individuals facing physical and mental challenges.
In Lost and Sound, we enter the lives of three individuals whose lives have been affected by hearing loss; a music journalist, Nick, an aspiring dancer, Emily, and a young girl, Holly, who lost her hearing as a baby and was born into a family of musicians, who yearn, with her, to extend the gift. Each journey shows us different choices, different coping strategies, and inspires us to not let loss define us. The question of whether to use cochlear implants (which restore hearing though not completely) is answered differently. The different ways music is restored into their lives is played out: by the teacher who says to Holly, as she sits at the piano, “look at that rainbow... look at that rainbow as a child would see it, and then play”—hearing those words will better allow her to express what she feels from the music; by Emily, who finds that ‘sometimes...it’s difficult to communicate with people, so I express my feelings in dance....Movement...(is) my language; and Nick, who chooses not to accept cochlear implants, because “I’ve invested so much in the world of one earedness. [I] want to appreciate what I’ve got.” Each develops their own attitude of strength: the dancer abruptly admonishes us: “Be yourself. Get on with it. Deal with it.” And Holly comments, with wisdom beyond her years, “If you dwell on it then you’ve lost the battle, really.”
Each film at the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which was held in NYC from March 6th to March 11th, is followed by speakers who understand from their own lives the stories depicted in the films; they have either worked with individuals affected by the issue focused on in the film, or they have experienced that difficulty themselves. After Lost and Sound, Wendy Cheng, musician and founder of the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss told us of her own story of hearing loss, and how she and others still play...piano, violin, viola....despite the imperfections of cochlear implants and hearing aids. She spoke of their wish that these devices would be improved so that their musicianship can continue and flourish. #
Karen Kraskow is an Educational Therapist in New York City.