She Sees, Feels And Expresses Music Through Song-Signing
STORY: Sim Ding En
23 September 2019
Today (23 Sep) is the International Day of Sign Languages. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres: "This International Day recognises the importance of sign languages for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling its core promise of leaving no one behind. It also offers an opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all sign language users."
Now that's something Lily Goh is familiar with. The founder and director of ExtraOrdinary Horizons, a deaf-led social enterprise registered in Singapore in 2011, has been conducting sign-language courses, workshops, outreach programmes, interpretation and translation services, and performances. The aim: to bridge the deaf community with mainstream society.
Deaf since the age of two, Lily can only hear loud sounds, but amazingly, the 39-year-old can play musical instruments such as the xylophone and the marimba with the help of musical scores and by sensing vibrations from the instruments.
In fact, she was part of the Purple Symphony (above) – Singapore’s largest inclusive orchestra comprising musicians with and without special needs – which performed at the 2017 National Day Parade. Not only did she play the marimba, she also chroegraphed the hand signs for Dick Lee's "We Will Get There", the theme song that year.
According to Lily, song-signing is a way of expressing songs in one's own translation and interpretation, in sign language as well as with body movements and facial expressions. In 2015, she signed a song entitled "If You Were In My Shoes" (see below), which she co-wrote with musician and songwriter Audris Ho, and describes the struggles faced by a deaf person.
Today, here's a way you can celebrate International Day of Sign Languages: let Lily teach you how to sign a few phrases (like "hello", "I love you" and "thank you") using Singapore Sign Language: