April 21 at 04:00
Eight-year-old Isaac Rogers is an exceptionally gifted deaf boy who plays piano, violin, clarinet, guitar and bass guitar. Isaac lives in Warlingham with his parents, younger sister and two cats, and wows everyone when he plays the instruments. His violin and piano skills are so outstanding they have won him a place on a prestigious performing arts weekend run by the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS), which will take place in Birmingham this week. Isaac, who has been moderately deaf all his life and uses hearing aids, will spend April 22 and 23 honing his skills with industry experts from Deafinitely Theatre, Music and the Deaf, Deaf Men Dancing and Deaffest. At the end of the weekend, the musicians will perform a live showcase in front of hundreds of friends and family at the Ruddock Arts Centre in Birmingham.
Isaac will be supported in the audience by his mother and father, along with his cousin who lives in Birmingham.
Isaac's dad, Mark Rogers, said: "We were thrilled when we found out he had got the place. "The weekend is a great opportunity for children like Isaac to meet other children who are deaf and have different levels of hearing impairment, and for them to make music together." Budding musicians put themselves forward for the the NDCS's Raising the Bar competition by submitting videos of them playing. 30 finalists were then selected from across the UK to join the renowned weekend of workshops. The competition was created to highlight the achievements of deaf young people as part of the charity's aim of making performing arts more accessible for the 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK. Mr Rogers added: "The NDCS have been fantastic at supporting us at home since we had Isaac. When you're expecting a child, nobody even thinks about the possibility they could be born deaf. The help we got and continue to receive from the NDCS is invaluable."
Also backing Isaac are the staff at his school, The Hayes School in Kenley, where he is in year four. The school's classrooms are equipped with soundfield systems and acoustic paneling which make the building accessible to children like Isaac. Head teacher Claire Slade said the staff are all "thrilled" that Isaac has been given this opportunity. "Isaac is a compassionate, hardworking and talented child and is proof that hearing loss is not a barrier to enjoying and making high quality music - he is fantastic," she said. When Isaac returns from Birmingham, he will have the honour of presenting this year's "Hayes Got Talent Trophy" - a job he earned when he won last year's contest by playing a grade 2 piano piece. Although he is not allowed to enter this year, he is already eager to compete next year. "I love to make music because playing makes me feel really happy and it's a nice feeling to play," explained Isaac, who took his first steps into the world of music two years ago. His first instrument was the violin, with a bass guitar he got as a Christmas present being his latest venture. Looking to the future, Isaac is dabbling with the idea of following in the footsteps of dad Mark, who is a sound engineer and drummer. "Isaac is our school values personified," added Ms Slade.