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YEA! Assists El Sistema Pilot Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Director expresses thanks

santoscamphero2012.jpgBeginning with a meeting and subsequent workshop this spring with Steven Liu of El Sistema in the Lehigh Valley and Brazilian percussionist Marcus Santos, YEA! has been able to assist in the development of a new project for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in the Lehigh Valley which was held from July 31 through August 3.

Steven Liu, program director for El Sistema Lehigh Valley said, “Thank you so much to YEA for your incredibly generous support that made El Sistema Lehigh Valley's pilot program for deaf and hard of hearing children a reality.  Without your support and interest, we would have not been able to provide such an enriching experience to the participants of Camp HERO this past summer, in addition to providing the first El Sistema-inspired programming targeting special needs children in the U.S.”

Through YEA!’s relationship with Remo Incorporated, El Sistema was able to use percussion instruments selected personally by Marcus Santos for use in the Camp HERO (Here Everyone Really is One) project.

Liu added, “Thank you for going the extra mile to provide the hand percussion drums that Marcus Santos recommended — they made the experience that much more engaging for all of the participants. “
Camp HERO was a week-long summer experience and featured "Bringing Music to our Souls," the Allentown Symphony’s education initiative. El Sistema Lehigh Valley piloted this program that teaches students to use interpretive dance, melody bell choir and a variety of percussion instruments to make their own music.

“This year our involvement with Camp HERO is a collaboration and extension of the El Sistema program we already have in place in the Lehigh Valley,” Liu explained.
El Sistema is a nonprofit youth and children’s orchestra initiative founded in Venezuela in 1975. El Sistema Lehigh Valley is an educational outreach program of the Allentown Symphony Association, inspired by the Venezuelan program, but independently operated. It brings string instrument instruction to disadvantaged children in the Lehigh Valley.

“Most music people would not think of engaging deaf and hearing-impaired children in a music camp, but they can feel vibration and experience music in other ways, so they can absolutely experience it,” Liu added.

marcossantosWorld-renowned percussionist Marcus Santos has worked with deaf and hearing-impaired students before, and says the educational aspect of what he does is profoundly satisfying. “To watch their joy is an amazing thing, and for kids to learn what it feels like to make music in this way, is like a door opening that was previously closed to them.”

Santos is a Brazilian percussionist who did a special clinic for YEA! earlier this spring and uses music as an educational resource, entertainment and prompt for social change, according to his Grooversity website. Santos has experience working with a diversity of special needs children. “It’s hard to know just how they experience something as 'aural' as music, but the loss of one of the senses absolutely heightens the others. Sound creates vibration and touch becomes more (prominent).”
For more information about YEA!’s involvement with El Sistema Lehigh Valley, please contact Rich Hammond at  Special thanks to for portions excerpted from their article.


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