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Chichester professor helps deaf children visualise sound

Dr Laura Ritchie

A University of Chichester professor has come up with a way for deaf and hearing-impaired children to see and feel music, helping them to experience sound in a fuller way.

Laura Ritchie, Professor of Learning and Teaching for the university’s Conservatoire, is conducting research into how music is experienced. Not only can her music be heard, but it can also be seen through cymatics, where sand forms patterns on a surface to match the musical notes. It is even possible to feel the music, by listening via bone-conducting speakers and also by touching the instrument as it plays.

Laura’s project, called Resonance, involves performing a piece of music (‘Resonance’ written by Jill Jarmon) on her cello, and then gathering audience reactions to it. She has invited members of the public to experience the multisensory form of her music, allowing everyone to hear, see and feel the piece, as well as helping deaf and hearing-impaired people to visualise the sound.


Laura has performed the piece at schools, universities, community venues and more. She recently organised a workshop at the Frank Barnes School for the Deaf and Kings Cross Academy in London, where both hearing and deaf children experienced the music and then drew and wrote about it.

Laura said: “The children had life-changing experiences. They each laid hands on the cello to feel the different high and low sounds and different articulations, and then experienced Resonance progressively – first with the images, and then with the speakers. They were encouraged to document their experience and their writing and drawing was astonishing.”

One of the children taking part in the workshops explained: “The vibrating feels really low but later on it made me feel like there was an earthquake. I think it was amazing because I felt free and so calm.”

Professor Ritchie is looking for more people to take part in this ongoing research project. If you would like to experience the music and give your feedback, go to https://resonance.lauraritchie.com/.

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