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Students With Hearing Loss Experience Minn. Orchestra

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Music is so present in many of our lives, it’s easy to take for granted. For a group of Twin Cities youngsters, it’s not that simple.

Students from Northern Voices, a school for children with hearing loss, got a chance to experience music Friday on one of Minnesota’s biggest stages, Orchestra Hall.

“We have to basically teach them how to listen, team them how to talk,” said Angie Schnellman, a teacher who has been with Northern Voices since they opened in 1999.

The students have varying levels of hearing loss, but all wear cochlear implants or hearing aids.

“We don’t really know how they hear things,” said Schnellman.

It’s easy to figure out, though, that they love music.

“I can see their faces now, and they’ll just be like ‘Oh my goodness, that’s a tuba, there’s the saxophone!'” said Schnellman.

After two weeks of talking about music in school, the 3-year-old to 7-year-old students got a chance to get their hands on the real thing, and they took full advantage of it. They banged on snare drums and ran bows across violins and cello, all with a smile stretching from ear to ear.

Sherry Schaffer’s son Frank is part of the class at Northern Voices. He was born profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants, but that hasn’t slowed him down a bit.

“He’s our youngest and arguable our most confident,” said Schaffer.

Friday was as much a treat for Frank as for his mom, who says watching her son enjoying music, never get old.

“I still tear up because it’s so fantastic, what we all get to appreciate on a daily basis, and he gets to as well,” Shaffer said.

The program the students attended is put on by the Minnesota Orchestra’s Volunteer Association.

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