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RUSS PALMER - PROFILE

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Born in England as a severely deaf person, has Usher Syndrome (Deafness, tunnel vision and night blindness), who is registered Deafblind, developed an interest in music from the age of ten, specialising in the Piano and Guitar. Originally trained and qualified as a professional Computer Analyst/Programmer for 10 years, before taking early retirement in 1989. He recently qualified in 1999 at Sibelius Academy, Finland as an International Music Therapist who specialises using and feeling music with Sensory Impaired people including those with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). He is continuing his research work in preparation for a Master’s Degree both in the UK and Finland.

In 1989 after completing a Furniture and Cabinetmaking course he persuaded his local Authority to provide him with a Discretionary Award Grant to do the Individual Study Programme and Foundation Course in Music at Dartington College of Arts in Devon in 1990. For two years, he developed his musical and compositional skills, researching into the application of music with Deaf and Deafblind children.

In 1992 he spent a year at AKS HJEMMET FOR DØVE Resource Centre in Andebu, Norway, conducting a Music Research Project with 14 children and 4 adults. Here he developed the application of using different styles of music using a specially designed Music-Floor. In addition there was an opportunity to use a combination of techniques, called TOUCH, COMMUNICATION and RELAXATION using MUSIC and MOVEMENTS (TCRM) for teachers in Special Education and devising a Music Programme with Deafblind and Deaf with Multiple Disabilities at the centre.

Returning to England in August 1993, he spent one year in Birmingham giving workshops at SENSE (National Deafblind & Rubella Association) residential centres. In addition he was developing a portable music-floor known as a 'TAC-TILE Sound Sysytem (TTSS)' with Sheffield Hallam University and Whittington Hall Hospital ("SNOEZELEN" Multi-sensory Centre) in Chesterfield, giving training to staff, on how to use these music facilities. The ‘Tac-Tile Sound System (TTSS) has been selected to be one of the "innovated design projects" to be featured in the new "Millenium Dome" under the ‘Spiral of Innovation’ section by the Millenium Design Council. The TTSS is being evaluated at different disability centres both in the UK and at a Deaf school in Finland.

He moved to Finland in August 1994 with his fiancee, giving lectures and workshops at Universities and various Deaf, Deafblind Associations and Deaf Schools (Helsinki & Oulu). At the same time he did a British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD), Distance Learning Course titled 'Interdisciplinary Work with People with Profound & Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD)' at Birmingham University which he completed in 1995.

In 1995 he undertook an 'Foundation Course in Music Therapy' at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland passing with distinction. Since 1997 he continued his studies at Sibelius Academy specialising in using Vibroacoustic equipment like the Physioacoustic Chair, with sensory impaired people. He qualified as an International Music Therapist at the end of 1999 where his final report was titled "Feeling the Music Philosophy for People with a Dual-Sensory Impairment".

He has been giving courses at the NUD (Nordic Staff Training Centre) in Denmark and in the UK at the University of Manchester through the Joint Training Initiative (JTI) Project for the past four years. In 1999 there was an opportunity to write and produce two units for a half-module Distance Learning Course Material through the (JTI). The first unit is titled "Using Music with Sensory Impaired People including those with PMLD" and the second unit with co-author Riitta Lahtinen, is titled "Holistic & Interactive Communication Methods with Acquired Deafblind People and Families (A Practical Approach)" (supplemented with a video). Both will be published in 2000.

Furthermore, he has been giving workshops on Music Therapy at the Royal Schools for the Deaf in Manchester, using the GAMELAN musical instruments to consider the feasibility and approaches of using these instruments to fulfil the aims of School’s National Curriculum. As part of his continuing research studies for a Master’s degree, his work at the Deaf school will be expanded to identify how these musical instruments can be used as a teaching and assessment medium for children with multiple sensory disabilities. As a International Music Therapist he hopes to set up various projects, in the UK and Finland using different Vibroacoustic facilities such as the Physioacoustic Chair and to evaluate the TTSS at different centres with Sheffield University.

When giving presentations and workshops at international conferences, both in Europe and Scandinavia, his aim is to give the users the experience and appreciation of 'Feeling the Music Philosophy' as a severely deaf person. This includes identifying approaches and methods of applying different styles of music to people with a hearing impairment, including those with PMLD. Presentations in 1997 included 'Feeling the Music Philosophy', at the '4th Nordic Music Therapy Conference', at Jyväskylä University in Finland and at the 'European Deafblind International Conference' in Spain. Furthermore, he gives presentations as an Consultant and Advisor on Usher Syndrome awareness and communication techniques with his fiancee Riitta Lahtinen. He is also an active independent campaigner for Usher Syndrome people representing them at the European Usher Syndrome Study Group meetings every two years.

Being an active musician he plays and compose his own music on the piano and guitar. He is an active member with the Finnish "Deafblind Theatre Group" where he composes music for their performances. One recent project development is the production of specially composed music titled "DINOSAURS" which has been composed by Steve Thornley. The project requires funding to produce and manufacture the CD with a booklet. It has been evaluated in some deaf schools which meet the aims of the National Curriculum and some Psychotherapists in Switzerland who are working with children with behavioural problems.

His philosophy is to share his enthusiam for music with people with Sensory Impairment and with those with Multiple disabilities, to help improve their own quality of life.

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