All over the world, music weaves communities. But, for people who are hard of hearing or deaf, seeing their favorite American Sign Language (ASL) song performed brings a common love of music. In an effort to teach music and sign language to youth in the community, the First Presbyterian Church of Brandon is bringing back its Youth Sign Choir.
The choir will meet weekly to practice this dramatic form of praise songs performed under black lights while wearing white gloves. The first practice will take place on Sunday January 9 and the first performance will take place on Sunday February 27.
According to principal Phoebe Irby, it is not necessary to have sign language experience as it will be taught during Sunday night practices. Young participants will agree to abide by the six-week training schedule prior to the show.
According to Irby, the Sign Choir began in the 1990s. “I was teaching hearing and visually impaired students at the Willis Peters Exceptional Center,” Irby said. “Most of our young people at church were very interested in learning sign language. “
At school, the music department did puppet shows using black lights. “Our school secretary, who was fluent in American Sign Language, was active in her church,” Irby said. “She and I were excited to use this form of worship, meaning to sign with white gloves illuminated by black lights.”
Irby explained that the competence of ASL has been a springboard for many members of the choir. In fact, a young girl continued to teach at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf.
The young participants, along with Irby, normally determine which contemporary worship songs are used.
“Our kids like to suggest favorites and they are taken into account, once we look at the lyrics, tempo, etc. Said Irby. “My favorite part of the Sign Choir is seeing the excitement on their faces when they have it. “
The first practice begins January 9 at 4:00 pm, with the first performance taking place February 27 at the 9:30 am church service. There is no charge and additional performances will continue throughout the year. Brandon’s First Presbyterian Church is located at 121 Carver Avenue in Brandon. For more information, visit www.fpcbrandon.org, email email@example.com or call the church at 689-4597.