July 2017

Business Mirror and the news.pl

People with cochlear implants gave a concert at the World Hearing Center near Warsaw on as Poland marks 25 years since the first such device was implanted in the country.

Music score 

MUSICIANS from all over the world recently converged for the “Beats of Cochlea” festival, where they showcased their talents, shared their love for music and received mentoring from world-class peers and professionals. What made the music festival extra special is the fact that it was especially created for people with hearing loss to fulfill their musical dreams. The performers represented a wide range of age groups, backgrounds and playing experiences, but all of them had one thing in common: They all use a hearing-implant in order to hear, appreciate music and experience the sense of sound as a normal hearing person should.

 Music students

Morta and guitaristMorta (right) being mentored on guitar by a professional musician

Polish surgeon Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, who heads the World Hearing Center, said that 25 years ago, his hopes for implant patients were that they would be able to hear and understand speech. “Today we hope that they will be able to pursue … musical careers,” he said, adding that this showed the progress that has been made in the field. Skarżyński also said that it was also proof that music was therapeutic and sped up therapy.

Following the success of the inaugural festival in 2015, this one-of-a-kind international music festival continues to demonstrate that, with today’s achievements in modern science and medicine, even those with severe hearing loss can live out their passion for music. Including those from the Philippines, participants—aged 6 years old through to 39—came from the UK, Poland, China, Greece, Taiwan, Ukraine, Portugal, Russia, Germany, Austria,Singapore and the Phillipines. All of them sing, compose and play one or multiple instruments, such as the violin, guitar, piano, flute, drums and guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument. Some were inclined to jazz, while others have a passion for classical, with the rest seeking rock-star status or pop fame. Although having unique hearing-loss journeys, a shared passion for music brought these people together from around the world.

This year the festival adopted a new and improved format, which included vocal and instrumental master classes with professional musicians from around the world. Within the four-day meet, the musicians shared their experiences with festival attendees. The event concluded with a gala concert where participants performed the musical pieces they developed during the master classes. Hearing-implant recipients who qualified to the festival included Filipina Maria Sharlene Morta, 17, who sang an original composition with her own guitar accompaniment.  Others were: 39-year-old Eva Costa from Portugal, who played the flute; Kazakhstan-native Chingiz Agibaev, aged 6, who performed a vocal piece; and Charlie Denton, 10, from Gloucestershire, UK, who is a master with the violin and piano.

Morta is currently Grade 11 at San Beda College Alabang (SBCA). In an e-mail interview, the teenager said she loves to play different musical instruments, such as the piano, guitar, violin and ukulele. “I also love songwriting, which leads me to appreciate music more. And I used to dance ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and jazz.” According to her mom Shalini, the prodigy passed Grade-7 piano and Grade-5 theory examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) of London in December 2016 and 2014, respectively. With these, she is qualified to teach primary levels of ABRSM students.  The young Morta also passed with merit the Grade-2 guitar in ABRSM. Likewise, she also received a merit from the Royal Academy of Dance, London, for Level 3-certificate in Vocational Graded examination in Dance: Intermediate (Ballet) in April 2015 and Grade-3 distinction in 2010. It was such a big feat for Morta, who received her cochlear implant in August 2004 when she was barely 5 years old. The teenager said she is blessed to learn from musical artists through the mentorship training, as this could help her launch a composer-artist career. She would love to become an artist who can inspire the world through her performances and work. “My ultimate goal would be to be able to inspire people by encouraging them to aim high and reach their dreams, whether they have a hearing loss or not. And I really hope that I can write more songs and collaborate with amazing singers such as Adele, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and other world-class artists,” she declared.

July 2017 Reading Chronicle

A deaf mother who was woken up by firefighters rushing her and her daughter out of a smoke-filled home thanked the emergency services for rescuing them. Chloe Stoakes arose to plumes of thick black smoke after an abandoned hob had been left on overnight. Firefighters and neighbours had banged on the door but Ms Stoakes, 46, cannot hear during the night because she removes her cochlear implant. Crews had no choice but to break into the house in Mayfield Drive, Caversham, and rescue the unaware duo.

Ms Stoakes said: "I was woken up by firemen and paramedics as my house was full of smoke due to a pan being left on. "When they woke me I thought it was my cat as she usually paws me awake around 6am, so I kept turning away. When I did realise I had no idea if house was still on fire or anything I as couldn't hear until I put my cochlear implant in.” Ms Stoakes' fire alarms were not properly fitted. Luckily, a neighbour had noticed smoke billowing from the semi-detached home and called the emergency services. "The neighbours were banging on the window before they called fire brigade," Ms Stoakes continued. I feel very very lucky as it could have been much worse if it wasn't for them. I would like to raise awareness on deafness and fire safety as people can get caught out anywhere. I once worked in a nursing home and first I knew there was a fire safety exercise was when I saw a fireman in a mirror in the loo- everyone else had been evacuated. There are specialist devices available now but not everyone is aware of these particularly if your not involved in the Deaf community."

A spokesman for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "As no one was responding when they banged on the door, firefighters had to get inside the house using an extension ladder through a window. In the kitchen they found food had been left cooking on the hob so they removed the pans and switched off the power.  A neighbour dialled 999 to alert firefighters after they smelled burning coming from the house next door. There was a smoke alarm in the property but it had been incorrectly fitted so did not activate. Fortunately the damage was limited to the pan, and mother and daughter were uninjured."

Professor GibsonPlease join us in congratulating Prof on his Australia Day honours award. Prof, who already had been appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia, yesterday was honoured with Officer of the Order of Australia. Congratulations Prof!! Even bigger celebrations now for international Cochlear implant day on Feb 25th.


Emeritus Professor William Peter Gibson of Birchgrove:
 For distinguished service to medicine, particularly in the area of otolaryngology, as a clinician, to the advancement of cochlear implant programs, and to professional medical organisations.