Music to my ears - Jamie Chen
Jamie Chen isn’t letting deafness hold him back.
The 17-year-old attended boarding school, plays the piano and the guitar, enjoys rock climbing and swimming and he speaks English and Mandarin.
“In the end, not much has kept me back.”
Jamie was diagnosed with a severe-to-profound hearing loss in his left ear and a profound hearing loss in his right ear when he was six months old. He was almost two years old when he received a cochlear implant in his right ear.
His older sister, a university student, has a profound hearing loss and also listens through a cochlear implant. Jamie says because of his sister’s deafness his parents were “more alert to hearing loss” when he was a baby.
Jamie attended auditory-verbal therapy at The Hearing House from the time he received his cochlear implant until he graduated from our programme and started school.
He started mainstream school when he turned 5, initially attending St Leonards Road Primary School in West Auckland and then becoming a student at Dilworth School in Epsom, Auckland from Year 6. Here, he attended boarding school during the week, returning to his family home in West Auckland on the weekends.
Jamie has completed his education with no Resource Teacher of the Deaf support but says he has learnt to cope with the few difficulties he faced in the classroom.
“In terms of learning, I’ve had to position myself towards the front for most of my classes.”
Jamie started playing the piano when he was 7 years old. He reached grade 6, achieving a high Merit pass, but took a break from exams in 2016 to concentrate on his last year of secondary school.
Dilworth staff member Sue Templeton has known Jamie since 2009. She was his piano teacher for eight years and his academic dean for three years.
She says he is a “gifted musician”.
“Over the years, in no way has Jamie allowed his profound hearing loss and cochlear implant to affect his learning to play the piano.
“He has given many solo performances over the years, displaying a real sense of style and attention to detail that has astounded and delighted Dilworth audiences,” Sue says.
Last year Jamie was part of a piano quartet.
“TO PLAY IN A QUARTET REQUIRES REAL MUSICIANSHIP SKILLS,” SUE SAYS. “ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF THE QUARTET NEED TO PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO CAREFUL COUNTING AND THE CUES FROM THE OTHER PIANISTS. A CHALLENGE FOR SOMEONE WITH A PROFOUND HEARING LOSS AND A COCHLEAR IMPLANT, HOWEVER JAMIE MORE THAN EXCELLED IN HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE QUARTET AND ADDED HIS SPECIAL SENSE OF HUMOUR TO PRACTICES AND PERFORMANCES.”
Sue says it was “a real joy” to teach Jamie and watch him “grow in to a fine young man with a good sense of humour and a positive attitude”.
“He always persevered in his efforts to achieve consistently at a very high level despite the challenges associated with his hearing disability.”
Jamie has also been a fantastic student and he has the academic results to prove it.
In 2016 at Dilworth he placed first in economics, maths with calculus and physics.
He achieved NCEA Level 1 and 2 with excellence and was on track to do the same with Level 3 in 2016.
Jamie borrowed 1090 books from the school library over his last four years at school and in 2016 he became the school’s Head Student Librarian – the first time the position had been filled in the last four years.
Jamie is grateful his parents decided to get him a cochlear implant and has advice for other deaf teenagers.
“Be a normal teenager. There is so much you can do with, or without a CI on. It doesn’t stop you from taking advantage of all the things you want to do.”
As he starts university this year, studying a Bachelor of Engineering, Jamie wants to put his experiences to good use and work towards a career that will see him helping other people.
“I want to try and help others. I like teaching younger people. I want to be able to see someone getting better, doing better.”
Jamie is also grateful to our team at The Hearing House.
“It’s a three way effort – The Hearing House, the parent and the child. I do think, that without one of them you wouldn’t succeed. The Hearing House has helped a lot.”