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Music for Life Conference - The Impact of Music on the Wellbeing of Deaf Young People

Conductor Charles Hazlewood will be the keynote speaker at a Music4U national conference exploring music and deafness, which will take place on Friday 27 February 2015 at the National Centre for Early Music in York.

Founder of the British Paraorchestra, the world's first ever orchestra for musicians with disabilities which closed the London 2012 Paralympics, Charles will talk about musicians with disabilities who are overlooked and his journey to bring this injustice to the world's attention while making first class music along the way.

This is the 2nd national conference organised by Music4U, Youth Music's Musical Inclusion programme for York and the Humber Region led by the National Centre for Early Music. It is aimed at professionals working with deaf young people up to the age of 18 and looks at the challenges deaf young people face and how music can promote improved mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Charles will be joined by inspiring presenters speaking on a range of subjects. Barry Wright, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Hull York Medical School, will talk about the wellbeing issues deaf young people face; Jonathan Heale, from Advanced Communication Solutions, will talk about the 'Play Safe Now - Hear Tomorrow' campaign which raises awareness about exposure to loud sound levels in music education; and Dr Chris Barlow, from Southampton Solent University, will discuss the risks and opportunities of using mobile devices for listening to music. Mary Bell and Teresa Gale from Drake Music Scotland will talk about their project 'The Kids are Alright' focusing on the practicalities of teaching instrumental music to deaf children while Ali Harmer and Ceilidh-Jo Rowe discuss their innovative project 'Playing Around Sound' which investigates the relevance of music to young deaf children, especially in the way music helps them to build relationships with others by playing carefully chosen musical instruments together and through play.  

Role models Sean Chandler, James Holt and Ruth Montgomery will share their experiences of being deaf musicians, plus there will be performances by young deaf pupils from York's new Singing and Signing Choir (York choir was set up by Helen Martin, teacher of the deaf, working as part of the City of York Council's Deaf and Hearing Support Team and peripatetic music teacher Molly Newton working with deaf children and their teachers/teaching assistants across the City) and the Sirius Academy in Hull. These young people have been working specifically to create and rehearse these pieces to perform for conference delegates.

Delma Tomlin, Director of Music4U, said: "We are delighted to continue our work with the Deaf community and to bring people together to be creative and develop new partnerships. As a result of our Music For Young Ears Conference in 2013, which focused on the lack of provision for deaf children under the age of five, two delegates formed the York Singing and Signing Choir who will be taking part in this year's conference. The choir gives the children a chance to get together with a 'deaf peer group', which is important to their confidence and self-esteem. 

"As a music organisation we are committed to working closely with the young deaf community and we hope to be able to support some of the initiatives that will grow as a result of this conference."

This conference will be live-streamed and can be watched on the NCEM website at

The conference costs £40 per delegate but there is a special early bird ticket price of just £35 for places booked before Monday 12 January. Full conference programme, presenters information and booking forms are available at or telephone 01904 632220.

The Music for Life Conference is supported by The Holbeck Charitable Trust, Charles Ruddock Trust, Frances Drake of York Lodge, Sir James Reckitt Charity and the Rotary Club of York.

Music4U is funded by Youth Music with partnership monies from the local authorities in York, East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, and is led by the National Centre for Early Music, York.

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Press Contact: Shona Galletly, on behalf of National Centre for Early Music 
                                m: 07813 796 733

Editors Notes:

Music4U ( is a music partnership, covering York, East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire, and led by the National Centre for Early Music. Music4U is working to provide opportunities for children and young people in challenging circumstances to access and progress through high quality music-making. It is part of Youth Music's Musical Inclusion programme running until March 2014.

Youth Music ( has a mission to be at the heart of children and young people's music-making, identifying and investing in learning activities for those with least opportunity. They use their unique intelligence to drive fresh thinking across music education.