Beats of Cochlea is an international music festival happening this week for people who play music, and also have a hearing implant. Held from 10-14th July in Warsaw, Poland, the festival offers a unique chance for musicians with hearing loss to meet others with hearing implants from around the world. Throughout the week, the participants will have one-on-one training from professional musicians, develop their skills in intensive workshops, and perform at a gala concert.
You may have seen our Facebook competition in May for musicians to win the trip to Poland, where we had some incredible videos submitted from talented MED-EL recipients. The Beats of Cochlea festival is in its third year, and we have had more applicants this year than ever before! The participants , who are from 6 years old through to 39, come from the UK, Poland, China, Greece, Taiwan, Ukraine, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, and Austria. Our MED-EL recipients can sing, compose, and play one or multiple instruments including violin, guitar, piano, flute, drums, and ‘guzheng’, a traditional Chinese instrument. Some love jazz, others have a passion for classical, while others seek rockstar status or pop fame. Although having unique hearing loss journeys, a shared passion for music brings these people together from around the world.
Here are some of the highlights from Beats of Cochlea 2017!
Unilateral cochlear implant recipient 18-year-old Zuzanna from Poland is a fan of all things rock!
13-year-old Luning Ren from China is happy to learn in her music masterclass how to bring a “Western style” to her traditional Chinese instrument, the Guzheng. “It’s my first time abroad and I’m excited to play music with my teacher and learn from her that my music I play can be international.”
Each of the MED-EL recipients had one-on-one masterclasses with professional Polish musicians to develop their playing skills. “It’s been a really fun few days here and I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve made a few friends even though they don’t speak my language which is cool. We just make each other laugh!”
These two cheeky guys, 10-year-old Charlie from UK (left) and 9-year-old Antonios-Spyrion from Greece (right) might not speak the same language, but both have a love of playing piano!
At just 6 years old, singer Chingiz from Kazahkstan is our youngest performer. Don’t let his age fool you – once he is on stage, you can’t take your eyes off of him (and his dance moves)!
17-year-old Sharlene from the Philippines learns some helpful playing tips in her guitar masterclass.
The singing workshops had everyone training their vocal chords, and Antonios and Chingiz weren’t afraid to belt out the songs together!
Recipients each brought an accompanying person, and 27-year-old pianist and composer Veronika from Austria brought her boyfriend of three years along for support. “He’s not treating me any differently. It’s not like he thinks that I’m a good person although I’m deaf. In his eyes I think he sees me even better because I have single-sided deafness and a cochlear implant, because it taught me so much. These things are a part of me and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
39-year-old recorder player Eva from Portugal, who has the SOUNDBRIDGE, is one of the MED-EL recipients performing at the Gala Concert on Friday 14th July. “I feel really proud to play in the Gala for two reasons. One, because I can show deaf people that they can be all the things they want to be, and even play music. And secondly, because the recorder is something many people don’t see as an instrument, but I can create and play whatever I want with it.”
12-year-old Talia from Singapore brought her dad along to play alongside her in the Gala Concert auditions. “Sometimes I let my dad play with me because it means we can spend time together. But sometimes he just comes barging into my bedroom and wants to play with me, even though I just want to just play by myself and relax!”
“I never expected in my lifetime that I can play music with my daughter who has hearing loss. Now I’m in Poland playing music with her – it’s awesome!”
After we saw her talent in her video shared on our Facebook, we flew 13-year-old Shing-Tzu all the way from Taiwan to Poland with her mom to play at the Beats of Cochlea festival.
The participants are making many new friends throughout the week at Beats of Cochlea. 13-year-old pianist Daniil from Ukraine hangs out with singing 6-year-old Chingiz from Kazakhstan.
Mom looks on as 9-year-old Antonios from Greece plays his favorite Bach piece in the music masterclass.
With a lot of social time included this week, Beats of Cochlea has been a unique chance for hearing implant recipients around the world to connect with others and share their stories.
Leave a comment below to wish all these musicians good luck for the rest of Beats of Cochlea 2017!