Born Into a Family of Musicians: Charlie’s CI Story
Before he was three years old, Charlie became profoundly deaf, and received cochlear implants soon afterwards. Born into a family of musicians, Charlie’s hearing loss was a surprise for his parents, who travel around the world playing in the Carducci Quartet. Last year, Charlie’s eyesight began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed with a condition which will eventually lead to blindness. His mom, Emma, is grateful that “cochlear implants have given Charlie one of his senses back!”
Deafblindness is far from hindering Charlie’s passion for music. We came across his violin and piano talents through our Facebook competition to attend Beats of Cochlea 2017. We chat with Charlie about all the things he loves about music, and life!
My name is Charlie and I am 10 years old. I love all sports and am currently training with the Great Britain Deaf Tennis team and am on the FA Talent Pathway for disability football. I also love music and I play the violin, piano, and guitar.
I was inspired to play music by my parents who are both professional musicians. They play in a string quartet, and I wanted to play the violin like my Dad. Music means a lot to me and my family. My Nana teaches me the piano and my Granny teaches me violin and music theory. I go to the Gloucester Academy of Music and I like playing in groups with my friends and family.
“Music also teaches you to work hard and stick at things.”
Music brings happiness into people’s lives. Last year me and my sister put on a concert and managed to raise enough money to buy chickens for a village in Africa. Music also teaches you to work hard and stick at things. It can be frustrating sometimes when I play out of tune without realizing. My pitching is getting better, but I have to concentrate a lot harder than my sister! I find the piano and guitar easier sometimes as I can’t play out of tune.
“I like music because it brings me images.”
Music is a big part of our family. Sometimes me, mom, dad, and sister do a quartet together. It’s fun—they’re more advanced than me, but I learn a lot from them. I really like music because it brings me images. You can make up stories in your mind what it’s about, depending on the style of music. My implants help me to hear the sounds I make, and I really like listening to the sound of my vibrato on the violin. I listen to a lot of different types of music, especially jazz, and I sing all the time.
“Before I had my implants, people couldn’t really understand me.”
Since I had my implants, mom says my speech has really improved. Before I had my implants, people couldn’t really understand me. But, last year, I gave a speech at the House of Commons in the UK Parliament and I won a prize for my speaking. It made my parents cry, but it was ok—I think it was because they were so happy.
I was very excited when I found out that I had won a place at the Beats of Cochlea festival. Basically, my mum phoned saying, “Do you want to enter this competition to win free tickets to Poland”, and I said “Yeah I’d do it”. Then when we got back to our house, I started practicing lots, and then I did the video. My mum found out I’d won and started crying—she was really happy. I couldn’t wait to meet other musicians from around the world and to play in front of them. Beats of Cochlea was really fun and I learnt lots. It’s a good experience. I even made a few friends even though they don’t speak my language, which is cool, we just made each other laugh. My friends back home knew I was there—they could be a little jealous that I missed a week of school!
One day when I’m older I’d like to be a musician, or end up being a sportsman, or maybe a detective!
Keep an eye on the blog as soon we’ll be introducing you to Charlie’s mom, Emma, to share her side of Charlie’s deafblindness journey so far.
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