Learning to see with sound
Whilst watching an episode of the One Show last month, I was astounded by a feature in a particular episode. It was about a 10 year old boy called Ethan Lock who was the most amazing piano player. He sat down to play the piano and I couldn’t believe what I was watching- especially as Ethan has been blind since he was a baby.
Music was Ethan’s main form of communication and as a toddler would go over to the piano when other children would be running around. It turned into a way of self-expression- much the same as with most musicians.
After auditioning recently for St. Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, he had been offered a place to study and the episode was following the story of how this was going to be a reality, when independence was currently not something Ethan had a lot of. His parents asked for the help of Daniel Kish, a blind man who specialises in echolocation, to come and teach Ethan how to get around. Echolocation helps him to understand the environment he finds himself in. By creating a clicking sound with the tongue on the roof of the mouth, which then bounces off surfaces in the surrounding environment, he can determine distance, locations, positions, contours and densities. This then helps him to build an image of the location he is in.
Ethan was taught this technique, firstly starting at home and eventually going to St. Mary’s School to understand the surroundings he was going to be faced with in his new school. Over a period of 3 months, naturally with ups and downs in the process, Ethan began to learn the art and finally managed to put it into practice in his school.
I was blown away with this story and it made me realise more than ever, how important music can be to people and how it really can be someone’s whole life.
You can read the BBC article and watch the whole story here.