Education and Community

Raanana Symphonette Orchestra

Feel the Music

The Raanana Symphonette Orchestra has a unique concert for rendering music accessible for the hearing impaired.

The chosen piece is Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

The concert is another step on the way to bridging the gap between the hearing impaired and the rest of the population. An enrichment of values of mutual respect, accepting the difference and understanding the world of the hearing impaired, achieved through an enjoyable artistic experience, especially tailored for the target audience.

The experience is multi-sensory: even hearing-impaired children can enjoy a classical concert, by using sensory balloons (vibrotactile sensors), an actor demonstrating the sounds while switching characters and presenting them through pantomime), animated puppets and a simultaneous translation into sign language.

In preparation for the concert, a joint activity is held for a class of hearing children together with a class of hard-of-hearing children before they enter the concert, along with a circle of drummers at the lobby.

In addition, the children are given informative kits, recordings of the pieces, an explanation of the various orchestral instruments and the nature of the sounds. This allows them to enjoy familiar and accessible material.

Touching the Sounds with Beethoven

A concert adapted for children with autism

The musical initiative

“Touching the Sounds with Beethoven” is a musical play that won the 2018 Israel Accessibility Award for. The play was created as a tribute to hard-of-hearing children, inspired by the life  of Beethoven, who despite his deafness continued to write masterpieces. The groundbreaking show allows for a new approach to music, using sight and touching and incorporating technology developed uniquely for the show. The orchestra’s playing frequencies (30 musicians) are processed in real time and the children see how sand and water change their shape according to the sound and even feel the music at their fingertips through vibrating water. The play tells a story about friendship, the enjoyment of being different, and the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical handicaps.

The show was performed all over the country, from Yagur to Beer Sheva with the Israeli Cha,ber Orchestra and the Raanana Symphonette and in collaboration with organizations for the hard of hearing (such as MIHA and Kol). The show was performed in front ot mixed audiences of hearing and hard-of-hearing children. Thousands of children watched the show and dealt with the issue of deafness from a place of empowerment and ability (rather than need or pity).

We have adapted ‘Touching the Sounds with Beethoven’ to make it accessible to children on the autistic continuum, taking into account their special needs.

The project includes adapting the accessibility technology to the needs of the show; Adjusting the performance environment (such as a quiet room that can be accessed near the hall), adjusting the volume of the music and lighting; Piloting in front of a focus group. The development and adjustment process is accompanied by experts in special education and music therapy with experience working with children on the autism spectrum.

In light of the success of “Touching the Sounds with Beethoven” we are interested in continuing to implement the vision of creating a shared experience for a mixed audience of children with disabilities and children without disabilities, thus bringing them closer together. Children on the autism spectrum are eligible to be part of the social and cultural world. Accessibility is an important component in the realization of equality and integration in society, and this is a worthy goal in our eyes. Art can change reality.

The Socio-Cultural Challenge

Today, there are thousands of children in Israel on the autism spectrum who want to be part of the cultural world, like their peers. The needs of a child with autism are similar to those of a child who is not autistic. One has to allow such a child the possibility of integration, to realize himself. The goal, as far as possible, is to prevent social and cultural detachment. Children with autism have a high sensitivity to stimuli (sound and noise, light and movement, touch, etc.) and difficulty adapting to new situations and places unfamiliar to them. Therefore, going to a concert that includes sitting in a crowded and noisy hall, exposure to powerful lighting and loud music, is a difficult, overwhelming and even impossible experience for them. So many parents avoid taking their children to cultural performances.

The world is witnessing a growing awareness to the issue and various cultural organizations are initiating solutions. Broadway, for example, has accessible shows. Once a year sees the Autism Awareness Month and Lincoln Center in New York hosts a festival of performances tailored for children on the spectrum.

The musical initiative

“Touching the Sounds with Beethoven” is a musical play that won the 2018 Israel Accessibility Award for. The play was created as a tribute to hard-of-hearing children, inspired by the life  of Beethoven, who despite his deafness continued to write masterpieces. The groundbreaking show allows for a new approach to music, using sight and touching and incorporating technology developed uniquely for the show. The orchestra’s playing frequencies (30 musicians) are processed in real time and the children see how sand and water change their shape according to the sound and even feel the music at their fingertips through vibrating water. The play tells a story about friendship, the enjoyment of being different, and the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical handicaps.

The show was performed all over the country, from Yagur to Beer Sheva with the Israeli Cha,ber Orchestra and the Raanana Symphonette and in collaboration with organizations for the hard of hearing (such as MIHA and Kol). The show was performed in front ot mixed audiences of hearing and hard-of-hearing children. Thousands of children watched the show and dealt with the issue of deafness from a place of empowerment and ability (rather than need or pity).

We have adapted ‘Touching the Sounds with Beethoven’ to make it accessible to children on the autistic continuum, taking into account their special needs.

The project includes adapting the accessibility technology to the needs of the show; Adjusting the performance environment (such as a quiet room that can be accessed near the hall), adjusting the volume of the music and lighting; Piloting in front of a focus group. The development and adjustment process is accompanied by experts in special education and music therapy with experience working with children on the autism spectrum.

In light of the success of “Touching the Sounds with Beethoven” we are interested in continuing to implement the vision of creating a shared experience for a mixed audience of children with disabilities and children without disabilities, thus bringing them closer together. Children on the autism spectrum are eligible to be part of the social and cultural world. Accessibility is an important component in the realization of equality and integration in society, and this is a worthy goal in our eyes. Art can change reality.

The Socio-Cultural Challenge

Today, there are thousands of children in Israel on the autism spectrum who want to be part of the cultural world, like their peers. The needs of a child with autism are similar to those of a child who is not autistic. One has to allow such a child the possibility of integration, to realize himself. The goal, as far as possible, is to prevent social and cultural detachment. Children with autism have a high sensitivity to stimuli (sound and noise, light and movement, touch, etc.) and difficulty adapting to new situations and places unfamiliar to them. Therefore, going to a concert that includes sitting in a crowded and noisy hall, exposure to powerful lighting and loud music, is a difficult, overwhelming and even impossible experience for them. So many parents avoid taking their children to cultural performances.

The world is witnessing a growing awareness to the issue and various cultural organizations are initiating solutions. Broadway, for example, has accessible shows. Once a year sees the Autism Awareness Month and Lincoln Center in New York hosts a festival of performances tailored for children on the spectrum.