IM this article to a friend!

June 9, 2004

NOTE-WORTHY VISIT: Concert by Duxbury High students a big hit at Canton school for deaf

From: Quincy Patriot Ledger - Quincy,MA,USA - Jun 9, 2004

By ANNE TRAFTON The Patriot Ledger

CANTON - For a 3½-year-old to love Vivaldi and Mozart is unusual, even more so if the child was born deaf.

After having cochlear implant surgery at the age of 1, Ryan Rockett of Duxbury can now request his favorite musical pieces, according to his mother, Lisa Rockett.

''He loves different songs and he can distinguish between them,'' Rockett said. ''He's constantly asking: 'What instrument is that?'''

Yesterday morning, Ryan and his classmates at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Canton were treated to a performance by 16 Duxbury High School musicians. The high school students also allowed the children to play their instruments.

The concert, in which students performed children's favorites like ''Old MacDonald,'' ''London Bridge'' and ''Itsy Bitsy Spider,'' was organized by Duxbury High junior Kira Treibergs.

Treibergs' mother, Sarah, helps take care of Ryan and drives him to school. During those drives, she noticed that Ryan was very interested in the classical music she listened to in the car.

Mother and daughter thought that a musical performance would help expose children with cochlear implants to the world of music.

''People just think because they're born without being able to hear, they can't play music, but because of cochlear implants, it's possible,'' said Kira Treibergs, who plays the cello.

After each Duxbury student played a short song on his or her instrument, the entire ensemble was joined by 18 children with drumsticks, tambourines and maracas in a rendition of ''Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.''

''Bach and Mozart are great, but 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' really brings down the house at Clarke School East,'' said Cara Jordan, the school's director.

The Clarke students, who range in age from 3 to 6, eagerly accepted the Duxbury students' invitation to touch their instruments. Junior saxophone player Anna Turley let children press the keys on her instrument while she blew into it, and sophomore violinist Genna Purcell allowed the children to run her bow over the strings of her violin.

''It's like a petting zoo for instruments,'' Lisa Rockett said.

Other Duxbury students who performed were sophomore violist Eleanor Terry-Welsh, junior double bass player Carl Sjoberg, sophomore flutist Annie Herchen, freshman English horn player Lija Treibergs, junior oboe player Carolyn Whipple, sophomore bassoon player Tristan Hale, junior French horn player Melissa Toffoloni, freshman trombonist Sam Katz, freshman baritone horn player Nick Joubert, junior trumpeter Ben Flaherty, senior percussionist Troy Anderson, junior percussionist Ben Tileston and sophomore clarinetist Laura Joyce.

The Clarke School's primary goal is to help deaf children develop language skills at an early age so they can join mainstream schools. Most of the students have cochlear implants, which allow them to hear frequencies normally used in speech.

''These are not hearing children,'' Jordan said. ''They are deaf children, but with cochlear implants, they have access to sound.''

Since Ryan's implant surgery, which his mother described as ''life-changing,'' he has started to speak and understand language. Like the other students at Clarke, he can communicate without signing or reading lips.

Music is a regular part of the curriculum at Clarke, where students gather every Friday for a musical sing-along. Yesterday's concert, during which several students danced to the music, was a special treat for the school, Jordan said.

''Any experience you can give the children that is hands-on has such a bigger impact than something you tell them,'' she said.

Anne Trafton may be reached at

Copyright 2004 The Patriot Ledger