This is the sixth of our instructor-led online discussions for Mu 101 (Fall 2019). Refer to the handout you received the first day of class (click on this highlighted text to go to that page our class website) which describes the amount and kinds of contributions you’re expected to make to these online discussions — they’re all the same parameters of good conversation that happens offline, too!

There are no questions at the end of this post to get the conversation going. Use your own critical thinking to make this conversation substantial: compare or contrast its ideas to your own experience or other things you’ve learned about, think about what surprises you, and think about what aspects resonate with or contradict your own experiences. The approximate reading time of this post is 11 minutes, not counting any audio media.

BEFORE WE BEGIN: A REMINDER ABOUT EFFECTIVE DISCUSSION FORUM PARTICIPATION

Most importantly for blog-style discussions, do not try to respond to every idea in this post. Focus on the ones that you have a strong reaction to, and learn from other people’s comments that address the other questions. Leave space for others to move the conversation along. There is no prize for trying to do it all yourself.

Limit each of your comments to addressing a single question or topic. By doing so, you make it easier for others to see your point quickly and easily, rather than letting your good idea get lost in the middle of a long, multi-topic post. If you have several different ideas you want to share, make several different comments. Let each idea speak for itself.

There are no questions at the end of this post to get the conversation going. Use your own critical thinking to make this conversation substantial: compare or contrast its ideas to your own experience or other things you’ve learned about, think about what surprises you, and think about what aspects resonate with or contradict your own experiences. The approximate reading time of this post is 9 minutes, not counting any audio media.


Leonardo da Vinci - Vitruvian Man 1490
Leonardo da Vinci, “Vitruvian Man” (1490)

Our bodies carry us through the world. Sometimes we’re proud of our bodies; sometimes they fail us. Others react to our bodies: with pleasure, attraction, seeking comfort, recoiling in fear, or—before humans climbed to the top of the food chain—viewing us as prey. Each of our bodies is different, and that means we experience the world in slightly different ways: a space that feels claustrophobic to one person may feel cozy to another, or a distance that is easy to cross for one may be intimidatingly far for another. Weather that seems pleasant to you may be too hot, too cold, too sunny, or too windy for another person’s skin color, body fat percentage, or hair length. Your body is one of the first determinants in how you come to know the world physically and socially—how it feels, how it treats you, and your place in it.

One of the things that comes with living in a society is a sense of what is “normal.” We build doorways, cars, stairways, airplane seats, and clothing to fit the “average” body. Even the language we use implies that there is a baseline of normal, since we refer to some people as having disabilities or being disabled, but we don’t refer to other people as “living with abilities” or “being abled.”

Really, “normal” just average, the middle of the pack. And that means that almost no one is “normal.” We’re all above average in some aspects of our physicality and below average in others.

Bell-Curve

We’ve been talking a lot in class about our listening experiences and all the things that influence them: our past experiences, how we listen, where we listen… The same array of possible factors affects what music a musician makes, too!

Music can be seen as a musician’s interpretation of the world, and their interpretation partly comes from moving through the world in their bodies—each person has a unique array of physical attributes as well as all the sensations, experiences, attitudes, and assumptions that come along with his or her body. A musician’s unique musical perspective comes from how they walk, the rhythm of their heart and lungs, the physical capabilities or limitations of their music making, how people treat them based on their appearance, and what they notice from their physical vantage point.

Let’s look at some musicians whose abnormalities—including physical and mental disabilities—shape the sounds they make.

Physical disabilities

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder

There are numerous examples of blind musicians throughout music history: Ray Charles (1930-2004) and Stevie Wonder (b. 1950) readily come to mind. And there are others, all of whom are imbued with a degree of reverence or magical awe by others, that somehow the loss of sight makes these musicians seem even more musically insightful

  • Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832), a German pianist-flutist-composer who lost his sight as a child when he tripped going down a set of stairs while hold glass containers, which shattered in his eyes
  • Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945), a blues and gospel guitarist from Texas
  • Andrea Bocelli (b. 1958), an Italian pop-opera singer-composer

The eyes are so important that 19th-century meditating shakuhachi players adopted a reversed version of this blindness, covering their faces so passersby would be “blind” to the identity of the person playing the flute, allowing the sounds they made to seem even more timeless and powerful.

shakuhachi
Meditating shakuhachi players would wear a basket called a tengai to hide their faces while playing

Blind musicians have not traditionally participated in orchestras, because so much of the communication that happens in that ensemble is visual: gestures from the conductor. A pair of inventors in England in 2019 developed a haptic (vibration-based) baton to allow blind musicians to physically feel the visual gestures of a conductor:

Although the ability to see is crucial for much human interaction, it clearly isn’t an impediment to participating in music, which is a sonic medium. But deafness would be impossible for a musician, right?

That’s what Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) thought when he started going deaf at the end of the 18th century as a result of an infection, just as his career as a virtuoso pianist and composer was taking off. Suddenly, it was all gone: his livelihood, his life-long honed skills (he had been trained by his father from a very young age—remember this online discussion?), and the joy he took in listening to the birds and rustling grasses on his walks through the countryside. He already felt isolated and lonely—he wasn’t a particularly attractive man, and he didn’t have the patience to always mind his manners when speaking, to dress neatly, or to flatter the wealthy aristocrats of Vienna. So he’s a loner, someone who feels like an outsider in society, and he’s losing his one consolation: his exceptional musical talent.

In 1802, Beethoven went to Heiligenstadt, a country town outside Vienna where he would spend vacations. He was distraught—what point was there to living if he couldn’t be “BEETHOVEN THE SUPER AWESOME TALENTED MUSICIAN”? And he decided to kill himself.

Beethoven house Heiligenstadt
The house where Beethoven would stay while in Heiligenstadt

Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Instead, he doubled down on being the best musician he could be, committing himself to creating music for the rest of his life, and he did so because he believed the world would be worse off if he did not. Think about the gravity, egoism, and confidence of that position: that Beethoven was so sure of his talent, his creativity, and his role in the world that he believed depriving others of his music would make him feel worse than the physical pain, social discomfort, and frustration of going deaf.

He penned a document now known as the Heiligenstadt Testament, in which he states that it was “only his art that held [him] back.” You can read the full text here: Beethoven – Heiligenstadt Testament

Beethoven’s decision not to kill himself—and to base that decision on the necessity of continuing to make music—plays an enormous role in his legacy, making him a revered, admired, intimidating, and inspiring figure for musicians and non-musicians alike from the 19th century onward (there’s more about the influential role Beethoven plays in music history here).

Deafness is less of an isolating trait today than it was in Beethoven’s time; sign language hadn’t yet been developed, doctors didn’t understand what caused deafness, and the idea of finding “empowerment” through overcoming challenges wasn’t anywhere near as popular of a narrative then as it is today (stoic resignation was a much more common reaction or attitude). Antoine Hunter, in contrast, is a deaf dancer-choreographer who runs a studio for other deaf dancers in San Francisco, and his life’s work is devoted to the empowerment of deaf people:

Just as with Hunter, being attuned to vibrations, even without being able to hear all of them, is part of how Evelyn Glennie (b. 1965), a deaf percussionist from Scotland, is able to perform—she’s typically seen onstage barefoot so she can feel what her instruments are doing, and her 2003 Ted Talk describes how she learned to better understand the world by using her whole body:

Mental health

Amy Winehouse. Jimi Hendrix. Jim Morrison. Kurt Cobain. Chris Cornell. Chester Bennington. Mac Miller.

Musicians who’ve suffered from mental illness and died from suicide and/or drug and alcohol overdoses seem commonplace. Mental health issues are common among musicians who are still alive and seemingly functional, as well, including anxiety disorders (Adele, Zayn Malik, Britney Spears, Barbra Streisand), eating disorders (Elton John, Paula Abdul, Demi Lovato), depression (Lady Gaga, Sia, Bruce Springsteen, Kid Cudi), and performance anxiety (extremely common in the classical music world—just think about the pressure surrounding orchestral auditions!).

Mental illness can be debilitating, particularly because it often doesn’t seem as obvious to observers as, say, a broken leg or a runny nose. There’s also a long-standing myth that creativity and mental illness go together—that abnormality and freakish talent go hand-in-hand—and it’s untrue, but for people whose identities are inextricably linked to being creative on demand, doing anything that might jeopardize that “gift” (like seeking professional help) can often feel unthinkable.

We partly have Beethoven and other 19th-century musicians to blame—Beethoven likely suffered from bipolar disorder. His letters, conversation books, and descriptions by contemporaries suggest this diagnosis, even though contemporary medicine did not contain that vocabulary yet. People found the idea of a tortured artist to be quite compelling in the 19th century, and this carried over into the 20th and 21st centuries. There are other examples of 19th-century classical musicians with diagnosed mental illness as well, and these reinforce the crazy-creative myth:

  • Hector Berlioz (1803-69), who self-medicated with opium and other drugs
  • Robert Schumann (1810-56), who walked himself into a river in his bathrobe to drown himself but failed and was committed to a mental institution
  • Anton Bruckner (1824-96), obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-93), whose depression was likely compounded by his shame over his sexual orientation and led to his suicide

When your body fails you

Then there are examples of musicians who don’t persevere—like Beethoven—and don’t spectacularly flame out at a young age—like Amy Winehouse—but instead whose bodies deteriorate and get the best of them over time, slowly changing or eliminating their ability to work: Lil Wayne and Prince, who both suffer from epilepsy; Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), whose compositional style changed as his brain deteriorated due to dementia; or Aaron Copland (1900-90), who simply could no longer come up with a single musical idea once Alzheimer’s set in (he lived for another 20 years after he last composed music in 1970).

Matisse - The Fall of Icarus 1943
The French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) turned to paper cutouts when his body would no longer let him paint after being diagnosed with cancer. The Fall of Icarus (1943)

“It was exactly as if someone had simply turned off a faucet.”

—Aaron Copland, describing his inability to come up with any musical ideas after his Alzheimer’s progressed

Avoidable injuries that musicians give themselves

There are also disabilities caused by music making. Overuse and excessive practice habits can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and focal dystonia for instrumentalists. These injuries are common and often career-ending physical. There’s no cure for carpal tunnel syndrome (numbness and tingling in the hands and arms due to a compressed nerve) other than ceasing the activity that caused it—meaning, no more playing music. Focal dystonia, which causes involuntary spasms that contract muscles in the body, on the other hand, is neurological—it’s a problem in the brain caused by a “mismapping” of physical motions in the brain (the brain mixes up which muscles are activated by different parts of the brain, resulting in mixed signals). For musicians, this most often happens in the muscles they use to do the most precise work of playing their instruments: embouchures of wind and brass players, fingers of pianists. It’s possible to re-train one’s body and learn to play without triggering these spasms, as Chicago-based oboist Alex Klein was able to do.

The most common injury for singers is ruining of the vocal folds—Adele may never sing again because of her poor vocal technique, in which she creates a big sound by straining and tearing her vocal folds. Those kinds of vocal injuries are rarer in the classical world because operatic singers work with vocal coaches non-stop while in school and their professional careers to develop and maintain healthy technique. Melissa Cross is a vocal coach who works with metal and hardcore singers to be able to scream for hours on end, night after night on tour:

Music therapy

Music can also be used as a therapeutic tool to help people with all of the disabilities discussed above create a sense of home, belonging, confidence, and well-being. Making music is fun, motivating, social, and doesn’t rely on language skills—it’s an avenue for all kinds of people to find themselves.

For example, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music has the largest clinical music therapy program in Brooklyn and provides music therapy in schools, senior centers, and community centers at 38 sites across New York City. The Conservatory works with 1,600 children, teens, adults, and seniors to help them reach their developmental, physical, social, and emotional goals through music therapy, including people with developmental, cognitive, and neurological delays; Autism spectrum disorders; Alzheimer’s and dementia; and emotional and psycho-social trauma.

Below is a quick but touching introduction to the work the Brooklyn Conservatory does in its music therapy program:

Final thoughts

Disability studies is an emerging area of inquiry in the musicological world, with publications only appearing in the last decade or so. In his 2011 book, Extraordinary Measures: Disabilities in Music, music theorist Joe Straus frames the concept of “disability” as a social construct, not a medical condition: our societal needs decide and define what is “disabling” based on what activities we collectively expect, need, or value. There are aspects of music making that thrive due to traits that might otherwise be disabling—social anxiety, narcissism, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder—but these traits can be crippling in musical contexts, too. We don’t typically tell the stories of musicians whose physical, mental, or neurological traits completely prevented them from achieving fame, accolades, or success*—just the ones who were “normal” enough to use their abnormalities to their advantage.

*But what is success, really?

-Dr. J.

71 thoughts on “Music and disability (Online discussion Oct 21-27)

  1. Success? that can be taken two different ways and explained. Success for some artists is making it out there.. having your music on iTunes, amazon, Spotify then just being on one platform. The artists mentioned here have had disabilities and some had worse problems than others. Those are the ones that are no longer here, but they left a really big impact on the world and to their fans. I guess you’d shock yourself if you knew your favorite artist or artists were struggling with something. Sometimes Artists don’t want you knowing about what they have and that’s on them for their own reasons. Billie Eilish who is 17 has Tourette syndrome and all the fame and appearances in the media forced her to address that personal issue which is this. She openly and publicly talked to Ellen about this on her show. At this age and with her growing status as a celebrity it’s a big step for her and I mean it would be a big step for anyone if they were forced to do this because of videos floating around. Other artists leave there mark on the world such as Queen who had a movie based on his life story played by Rami Malek who did an amazing job of playing Freddie Mercury. Other movies came out like the one for Elton John, which I didn’t get to chance to see. My point is success can be just making it out there or leaving your history and mark on the generations to come and so on.

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    1. Success requires a goal. If you set a goal and achieve it, you succeeded. If you set a goal and do not achieve it, you did not succeed at that goal. You can’t define success without first establishing an end goal.
      I, for example, established a simple goal which is to improve my grades. I don’t establish long-term goals, since those are extremely tedious to achieve. I succeed when I achieve my goals, and after that, I set new goals to achieve. Doing this over and over can lead to some good progress later on.

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      1. I agree with the fact that there is a goal needed for success but, success should not be paint that black and white. Success can come in the form of learning or being better that your previous self. Your not always going to hit the target the first time around but if you gather information and learned then I would still mark it as successful.

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        1. Yea I definitely agree with aiming at a goal and once that goal is reach , there is success. But there can be situations where the effort in accomplishing the overall goal is a success itself whether or not the goal is reached.

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      2. I think that’s a really cool way of looking at it! Being successful is not simply defined by how famous you get. If your goal is just to have fun making music that makes you happy, you can be successful! I think it’s good to set one goal at a time as you progress. Immediately setting the goal of becoming the most famous artist in the world may often lead to disappointment. If you start with smaller, achievable goals, you will have more success and you will likely be happier.

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  2. Wow, I don’t know where to begin. Such an interesting topic this week. Music and disability. First, I’m glad that Beethoven did not really commit suicide. While I was reading, I was so into the text and “saw spoiler alert”. Man, I was so glad that it did not really happend. Now let’s get back to the important stuff. It has been an amazing journey for me in this class so far. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ am getting so much information in MU101. to learn how a dancer/choreographer feels music through vibrations is really interesting to me. Being completely deaf was not a deterrent for him. He had managed to become what he wanted to be in life. I really think that was awesome. Moreover, I never knew that blind individuals could play in an orchestra. The vibration-based condition stick was an amazing wok of science. Not to forget Evelyn, she plays the percussion so good, I was under the impression that she could hear. I After learning that she was deaf, I was blown away. How can we feel music through vibrations? Maybe the answer lies in the way we listen. I believe that we discriminate on other ways that we can appreciate sounds because we have hearing capabilities. But for others with disabilities, exploring with other innate senses makes it possible or even more reliable. I remember saying it in the beginning of class. Sounds are all around us. How we listen is the most import discussion we should be having. We have been using our ears to listen. But according to Evelyn, we must feel the sound, allow our body to experience the exchange between the musician, the instrument and the environment. Only then, we can judge that particular sound. What are your thoughts?

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    1. Deaf people can perform as long as there is something to accommodate them, like some way to feel what they are doing. The same thing goes for blind people.
      When it comes to suicide though, you really have to figure out what’s making you want to die, and see how that can be addressed. I believe blind people can have eye surgery to fix the problem, but I don’t know about deaf people.
      You can feel music through vibrations if the music is loud and heavy enough. Often when I’m sleeping, and I hear a loud noise, it isn’t necessary the sound/volume that wakes me up, but often the vibrations of that sound. When someone screams in your ear, you can kind of feel the scream. That’s the vibration of their voice.
      I find it weird that sounds can be all around us. When I’m alone in a secluded area, and there are no sounds, I might hear ringing in my ears and I don’t know why.
      I think you’re trying to say that we should listen to a song fully, multiple times, before judging it, which is what I do sometimes.

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        1. Some deaf people have not always been deaf! If somebody was able to hear at some point in their life, they have a good foundation to work off of. In addition, there are varying degrees of deafness. So they can still pick up on certain sounds. Even if a person is completely deaf, sound will always produce vibrations that deaf people are very sensitive to.

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          1. I agree. Plus deaf doesn’t mean blind, we have five senses that we can utilize to get the job done and 4/4 can still produce beautiful music.

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        2. For a deaf person to play the piano, it’s crazy to think that. People that do hear can’t even play it sometimes. So there has to be something in their brains that capture a melody or tune whenever they play an instrument without hearing it, a good example could be Kodi Lee America’s Got Talent 2019, the kid preforming is blind and autistic and when he plays and sing hes another person but clearly not everyone who is disable like him could do this things either

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        3. Well when being deaf you still have 4 other senses and they help make learning a little bit easier for them. So just like how Beethoven learned music, they can learn through vibrations and as long as they know the rhythm they can learn music.

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  3. One interesting fact I learned In psychology is that the term for disabilities keep changing. Special-needs handicapped, differently abled, crippled, retarded. These are all words that were used to describe people with disabilities. But then people were being bullied and called these names as an offense and that’s why they keep changing the names. Seeing musicians with a “disability” can actually teach people how to use their bodies in different ways that we would not encounter, to experience something different and inspiring. I am glad to be in this era where technology and science got so advanced compared to when Beethoven was alive to help people with disabilities. These videos are very inspiring and it goes to show you that nothing is impossible which is very cliché but really if these people can do it what’s your excuse. And I’m glad music is able to connect to everyone without being selective. I think celebrities that share their problems about their mental illness or their physical illness are very strong and are setting a good example and being really good role models for people suffering with the same diseases.

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    1. The terms special-needs, handicapped, differently abled, and crippled were once used to offend people? I didn’t know. I’ve never heard anyone call anyone that to offend them, so maybe this was before I was born?
      As for celebrities, yeah. Many of them show only the good things going for them in their lives, leaving out all of the bad things, and making people think they have perfect lives, when they really don’t. It’s why I don’t look up to anyone or idolize anyone.

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      1. No it still happens, more often i hear the word “retarded” get thrown around like leaves when its windy. I dont think people notice when they use the word but im sensitive to noticing since my brother has autism and “retarted” is a word that i would hear often when strangers passed by and stared when he was throwing tantrums in the mall on the escalator or throwing food across a resturant.

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      2. Last year when I was in high school many people would use the words “special ed”, “mental”, and “retarded”. Those teenagers would often say it to each other to make fun of each other even though nobody really took these insults seriously it was offensive for other people.

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    2. @ Narveeda has a good point . The term disability has evolved and it’s not only physically but also mentally.

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  4. I enjoy this blog because it reminded me not all disabilities are visible and mental illness is a very serious and concerning disease. I always thought that musicians were taking drugs because of their fame and fortune and just blowing money away On cocaine. Seeing these types of celebrities on social media is very influential on teenagers.They can both be in a negative or a positive way.

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  5. This is very interesting to me. I work with children who have autism spectrum disorder and a lot of what we do with them is based around trying to build communication skills (they are 2 years old so most of them are nonverbal at this point). What I have witnessed a lot of times is that kids who dont speak yet are able to say words when prompted in a song that they know well. Eventually, we start to hear them singing to themselves, often songs that are relevant to what they are doing (like singing wheels on the bus when they play with a toy bus). I think of music as a gateway to language for children who dont have the same natural language skills as neurotypical people.

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    1. How is working as a therapist? Do you relate to the children you work with?
      It’s easy to listen to a song of a different language and still remember the lyrics, even though you don’t know them. I listen to many songs sung in different languages, and I don’t know what is being sung, but I know when. We tend to remember certain sounds whether we understand them or not.

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      1. that is true. my is only 18 months old and he is dancing to his favorite cartoons and their theme songs. i know he does not understand any words they are saying. he is feeling the rhythm and the contours of the melodies. Something about music and sounds, there is no barriers. Music will got through to you. physically challenged or not, your body will feel it.

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      2. good point, I realized I also listen to and remember songs in other languages. The children I work with do understand what the words of the song are. Most of them are from english speaking homes, even if they also speak spanish or some other language. At this point in their development, their brains are constantly building neural bridges, and so their ability to learn languages, not just hear and remember, is beyond what the typical adult can do. The song they sing often have to do with the activity they are engaged in (example: singing abcs while doing an abc puzzle, or old machdonald while playing with animals).

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    2. I agree, but don’t forget. Music is not only therapeutic for mentally challenge kids, it is important for all kids in general. Take Disney for instance. Everything is done around musicals and singing songs. its like magnet. Good and catchy Memorable melodies get these kids attention. i think that is the reasons why psychologists are using music as mean to cure linguistically challenge kids or adults.

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  6. Hey Guys, This is an amazing topic and I wish if everyone kept sharing what they noticed or what they know about this topic. Back in high school every summer I would do community service and I’m not sure if it was because I like helping why i kept going back to this same place . It was a physiotherapist office and I interacted so well with these patients . People with stroke and other problems did their exercises to music and also the atmosphere not only had a color scheme but a soft ambiance that made it welcoming and it would somewhat ease the frustration .

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  7. Success is the when someone achieves a favorable or desirable outcome, which can either be the attainment of wealth, resilience or eminence. In relation to Beethoven’s situation where he almost killed himself because he lost his hearing. But instead he thought of the outcome that can come from overcoming the disability which in his case was resilience. In doing so Beethoven gained eminence which is a huge milestone because he also serves as an example to others and encourages more people to conquer their impediments.

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  8. After watching the video “Magic baton’‘, it makes me think how much of great music we have lost just because back in time people did not have these technologies and many of disabled people who had skills to create good music gave up on their dreams.

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    1. That is pretty deep what you just stated. i agree to that. i can not immagine it my self. even during the classical era. Remember, Beethoven was comtamplateing killing himself. Why? Maybe at the time, being disable was the altimate curse, the freak of nature and the no good to society? but what ever the reason, he thought less of himself for being deaf. let’s think about it. what was music and the disable dicussion during the medieval, renaissence, the baroque, classical and the romantic ares like ?

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  9. It is surprising how too much of practice or playing music in an improper manner can cause harm to one’s ability to play music for a long time. For instance in the metal band video, singer Caleb Shomo could not speak for almost two weeks after singing improperly in his concerts, thanks to people like Melissa Cross who is doing a good job by helping these metal singers how to sing properly.

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    1. I don’t think that making a mistake during practice in and of itself effects ones ability to do something. As somebody with anxiety, I can definitely say that making mistakes can create a mental block if you allow it to. Say somebody sings a bad note during practice and feels embarrassed about it. Mental illnesses such as anxiety can make a person afraid to sing, for worry that they may embarrass themselves again. The talent is still there, but their brain is telling them that it is not. It really is just a battle with your own mind. It can be extremely hard to break out of a mental block like that, but the best way is to just do it. Start to sing again, and you will quickly realize that nothing has changed. The longer you avoid a problem, the worse it seems in your head.

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  10. Success is always on everyone’s mind. Reaching that goal and hitting the mark. Life would not be as exciting if we always hit the mark the first time. Learning from mistakes, adapting to overwhelming odds is makes us as humans different from other species in this world. So, in this article the overwhelming factor for musicians is over coming disabilities when or if presented. Perfect example of this would be seen from Evelyn Glennie, she made her own way of hearing. Something as simple as being bear foot to feel the vibrations helped her attain her goal. Now, who knows how long that took to come up with a great idea but I’m pretty sure she kept at it till she hit the nail on the head. Tough times should never hold you back but some let it get it get the beat of them. Like with Mac Miller, Jimi Hendrix and such unfortunately they have in to their disorders and it lead to their lives being shortens in an untimely manner. Who knows what kind of musical contributions they could have added if they overcame their disorder or got the help they needed. Stress from the wanting to be the best could have been the ignition to their disorders but, we sometimes fail to see as reaching out to other as an option. The reason why I say this is because I also fail to reach other when I need help because of the fact I feel it hinders my success to grow as a person but, when you deplete your resources what can you do?
    Ideas to help one over come their disability is successful not just for the one being helped at that moment in time but future ladies and gents who choice to inspire the world through music. So, success takes time. As long as your better than the person you were yesterday then I would mark it down as a success when I see it!

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  11. Hey guys I just did my writing #5 on this topic. I was wondering how you guys feel about the research regarding music and disability. Are you guys satisfied with the research or you want more in depth facts about music and disability.

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  12. With me just doing my writing #5 on this topic, I have a to relate to. My co-worker once worked with a child who had a mental disability. She was able form a bond with that student based off of them listening to music. I just want to know like what is going on internally with the brain of those with special needs, when music is present. I also want to know id=f people with different disabilities benefit from music differently.

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    1. That would be cool. Maybe you can do a little research on the subject matter. When you done, please share your findings. you can post it or bring it to class.

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      1. This is very true the closest thing I saw to a artist in a wheelchair was 2 Chainz performing his tour in a wheelchair due to him breaking his leg.

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  13. Having a disability does not restrict our true potential neither does it defines us, or what we are capable of doing. There might be a few limitation.

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    1. You said “a few limitation” but just a few could mean everything fo that person. i have not yet seen a major label artist in a wheelchair ever. if i’m wrong, send me a link. i think people with disabilities are still fighting that war with society. to be accepted as a regular human being.

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      1. I agree with you I never seen someone in a wheel chair as an artist at least not yet but being in a wheel chair doesn’t mean there are not capable of doing so

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        1. They’re out there, however just not popular enough in society sadly. I think Artist with disabilities are more known to greater local communities and are known if you’re thoroughly searching for them. Society is always changing and adapting, out of topic but example with different body figures. More people except plus sizes now than they ever did before.

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          1. I know they’are out there but not mainstream. The industry is probably afraid that society will judge and not pay much attention to their work. I guess the money is not worth investing on a disable artist? I mean i don’t see why not if the talent is there. What you guys think?

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    2. Love this response. A disability is maybe a myth. It’s probably just like race, a natural platform. A natural existence. I think a “disability” is simply and mostly a political conversation used for the elite within executive, judicial and legislative branches. They need something to project outside of finances.

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      1. I guess this year’s political agenda did not include disability and equal opportunity. It has been al most 4 years since the last election. All headlines have been “Trump, Trump, Trump” and more “Donald Trump” Maybe it’s because during his campain he made fun of handicap. Remember?

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      2. I totally agree with you especially with the idea that disability is maybe a myth because they are individuals who have all their five sense and can not do half of what some individuals who don’t have all their sense can do. I don’t hear society identifying them as disability? It’s all political.

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  14. Disabilities leads to discoveries and alternatives. When reading I couldn’t stop thinking to myself about how determined and inspiring these people are. By nature and accidental causes, the pain the face in beginning they rejoiced in their differences amongst others and turn the tables over to share their different adaptions. How these artist stood connected with their music is truly phenomenal, and tells a tale of overcoming. Life is precious whether we care able to see or hear. And mentality still holds creativity and capabilities no more what circumstances. As long as we believe in our selves, and this goes for every sort of art.

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  15. I think success is something you create and make. As an individual success is like a way to feel accomplish of yourself. Most of us set a goal to be a better individual as a person or prove to others that certain things can be done no matter where you from, what race you come from, or even what is social class.

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    1. I think success can be achieved without a “goal.” Because I think “goals” are subjective and we all use normal approaches to what a goal is.

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  16. I feel as if they’re are many different perspectives on what success is. Disabilities in my opinion don’t hinder a persons success and reading this article supported exactly what i was thinking.Success is a mindset and requires determination not something you just gain without effort. I found this read very inspirational.

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  17. I love that this article addressed systemic approaches to normality. I think the social construct of it all is toxic as fuck. I loved learning that blind people carves their own lane, despite, initially, not being welcomed by mainstream Industry platforms during certain eras. I loved learning about deaf dancers, because just when I thought i have heard it all – I was challenged in that arena.

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  18. Although it may seem that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage, it seems that a disability allows the other senses to get stronger which allows the disabled person to still perform, despite their disability.

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    1. Like that one video of the young girl who had no arms and proceeded to learn how to do everything with her feet, like eat and type on a computer. On a fictional note, daredevil is a great example of strengthening your other senses when one or more falls short.

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  19. People who are deaf lack one of the 5 senses to experience music, which is sound. But through plasticity their other seasons work together to make up for the loss of hearing. The brain processes sound in many different areas but the main parts would be the sensory cortex, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, cerebellum, and auditory cortex. Each of these parts of the brain play a key role in how people experience music whether they be deaf or can hear. These parts of the brain just adapt to a person who is deaf to interpret sound and music in a way other than through messages from the ears. Everyone can make the experience of music that much better for people who are deaf through support of interpreters who preform sign language.

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  20. The invention for the blind Japanese musician to feel vibrations to supplement his vision is absolutely genius. Feeling music actually has a bigger impact than seeing it, in my opinion.

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  21. I like this topic because it have me thinking about that fact that people that have disability are so determine to challenge themselves and adapting new ways of hearing seeing, and feeling music .
    These individuals like Stevie Wonder, Hunter and many others are not allowing their disability to stop them from experience life to the fullest, we all can take chapter out of their books.

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  22. But what is success, really?
    Success is not only about achieving a goal , but could also be about figuring out that little something that was on your mind day to day. From having an understanding on the information given, disabilities are challenges that weren’t always there until something specific happens. But of course most challenges are being noticed early , so others can be warned. Though not achieving that one thing that you’ve worked on every day , is frustrating in which can lead to not so good thoughts. Therefore knowing and hearing about different disabilities is very educational and worth it to learn more about since new problems are coming to unfold.

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    1. I can’t for the life of me think of a disability that would impede the ability to create music if the passion was strong enough. There’s a few musicians (lesser known indie bands) where one of the lead singers has tourettes. The frontman Adam from Owl City is on the Autism spectrum and is one hell of a musician. There are deaf musicians, bipolar musicians, musicians with severe PTSD and even narcolepsy. I feel like if the love for music is there and the time and effort is spent, anyone can pursue their passion for music.

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  23. The definition for “success” is subjective, though. What might be success for someone else may ultimately feel like failure to someone else. For some, just getting a few followings on Soundcloud or Spotify is enough to feel like you’ve “made it”. Selling a million records may feel like nothing is worth celebrating.

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  24. Mental illness is also a form of disability though. Artists like Vincent Van Gogh and musicians like Kurt Cobain suffered from bipolar depression and many fans believed that their struggles helped elevate their craft’s skill. I’m a huge fan of both as well as artists like Amy Winehouse but I don’t think their mental suffering is what’s necessary to make great art. I wish artists would have gotten the help they needed before they succumbed to their diseases.

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  25. This topic is very interesting, to me success is when you have fulfilled your life goals and have found happiness in what you do. Like that quote that says “a job isn’t work when it’s something you truly love to do” (something like that) so in my opinion success is when you are able to wake up everyday and do something you truly love to do. Isn’t that the goal? To be able to be happy in our careers/lives. To be able to feel that you’ve set a goal for yourself and accomplished it? Or Is it only about how much money you make? To read about how these artists over came their disabilities and still worked hard to accomplish their goals, to me is truly what success is about. Whether rich, famous or not. They went out there and beat the odds and didn’t allow anything to stop them from doing what they truly loved. I’m sure they had/have so many people who look up to them and are proud of them, like family, friends, fans, colleagues, whatever the case may be. That alone is someone who has achieved success. Then there are unfortunately artists who their disabilities have been the cause of their demise, you hear about both success stories and as sad as it may be. Not so successful ones.

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  26. Aside from all the ‘disabilities’ as we label it in society…… those people with disabilities can somethings have a spark or can even have musical talent that a person without disabilities can ever have . This online discussion reminded me of the one we had prior how the brain and music. I really want to bring up the young man Kory Lee from America’s got talent again (this time I put a link to his first audition). Not only was I speechless but it made me realized what amazing talent a person with a disability can have. Aside from being autistic his performance was heartwarming, amazing and just simply emotional.

    You guys should defiantly check it out.

    This just shows how music can bring success to people with disabilities. The Brooklyn conservatory of music seems like an amazing place for people with mental disabilities, to show them the they can be able to do thing and not be just what they’re labeled. “Disabled”.

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  27. Everyone’s perception of success varies with multiple factors. It can count as something practical and simple to one person but also has to be something extraordinary and exceptional to another. Someone can be successful in having the body they wanted or working at a job they’ve always dreamed of, while another can be successful at curing cancer and becoming powerful and famous. It all depends on an individual’s goals. But it’s never just the goals, it’s also the journey. Success isn’t a straight road as it really stems from a lot of failures. You’re successful if you get past those failures. Some people would take the failure as a sign to give up and never continue on their goals, while others use it to learn and move forward. Success is both the ride and it’s destination. Their success to jump over their obstacles lead to their success in their goals and life. All those little successes lead to one huge success, themselves. People with disabilities who still manage to get ahead are the ones you can consider the most successful. They have the greatest disadvantage when it comes to moving forward with their life and having all the abilities as normal people would. Obstacles are much bigger for them and yet they still manage to climb over it better than most “regular” people. Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein were all dyslexic scientists that managed to have the most success in their field of work. Stephen Hawking had a debilitating form of ALS which rendered his body completely useless, but he still compensated with his brain and contributed more than most others. Beethoven was dead and still made some of the best pieces of music. Ironic isn’t it? He’s one of the most well known composers of all time and it’s all thanks to his success. His success is all thanks to the path he decided to take and his disability is what emphasized his success the most. Even being deaf to his own music couldn’t stop him. That’s what I call true success. You take everything that’s wrong and manage to make something right. No matter how you do it or how little or large in significance. Success is making the best of what you got.

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