Ten-year-old violinist Sophie Wiseman from Chiswick, who is partially deaf, is to feature in a film which hopes to raise awareness of deafness in the arts.
Sophie, a former pupil of Cavendish Primary, who has unilateral hearing loss, was chosen along with eleven others as a winner in the 'Raising the Bar' competition, developed by the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) to drive expectations of what the 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK can achieve.
Last year Sophie was awarded a scholarship to Wells Cathedral School in Somerset - one of Britain's five specialist music schools, which takes some of the best young musicians in the country. She is currently a Year Six pupil in the Junior School.
Proud mother Lucy said; "We think Sophie was destined to play the violin.
She always loved string music from a very early age".
Her parents suspected that Sophie might have a difficulty with hearing when she was aged around two and tests discovered that she had reduced hearing in one ear and is deaf in the other. Following surgery Sophie was fitted with a specialised hearing aid but has always led a very active life.
Sophie is a past member of the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, and has recently been invited to lead Second violins in the Young National Schools Symphony Orchestra.
“Many more children are affected by hearing issues than people think” said Mum Lucy. "She represents countless young people who’ve quietly had to work harder than their classmates because of disability. But her love of the violin demonstrates that children can succeed despite those difficulties. She is proving that despite hearing loss children can and should flourish."
Defmotion, the UK's only touring deaf dance crew, were involved in selecting the winners and have invited them to dance and music masterclasses on 24-25 May. Hosts include acclaimed deaf flutist Ruth Montgomery and Danny Lane from ‘Music and the Deaf’, a unique charity working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy music.
The newly found ‘Raising the Bar’ stars will work towards a live showcase at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre which will be filmed and sent out to teachers across the country. The inspiring recording will form part of a resource pack which will include top tips on teaching deaf children, information on how to make classes and venues deaf-friendly and guidance on addressing the communication needs of deaf children and young people.
NDCS hopes this will encourage everyone working within the arts to ensure that all deaf children and young people can be included in the same activities as their hearing peers.
Former Hollyoaks actress, and star of ABC’s ‘Switched at Birth’, Rachel Shenton launched the competition at the beginning of this year. She said:
“The talent showcased by deaf children and young people has blown me away!
I know the judges were faced with a tough decision on who would win. So, a big congratulations to all the entrants.
“My dad lost his hearing through illness so I’ve seen first-hand the isolating impact that deafness can have. I also studied performing arts myself so I know how important it is that all children have an environment in which they can learn new skills, build confidence and make friends.”
“Deaf children can do anything other children can do. We just need to get the support right.”
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Inclusive Activities for NDCS said: “We had a fantastic response displaying a range of dance and music talents from hip hop to ballet, clarinet, piano and song.
“Deaf children and young people should have the same opportunity to take part in dance and music as their hearing friends. We hope that the new guidance for professionals, which Sophie will help us develop, will make sure deaf children get the same opportunity to pursue their dreams”.