Shake It Off

The last post mentioned language, so continuing in that vein I wanted to talk a little about another of my loves: sign language, and in particular sign-song.

I’m admittedly rusty at the moment, however last year I was learning level 2 British Sign Language (BSL). I started learning sign language shortly before Lizzie and I got married. We’d already been together thirteen years(!) and i’d picked up the odd sign here and there – the fingerspelling alphabet has been a staple for years – but i’d always said i’d formally learn BSL.

It was during my level 2 course that I made a new friend, a Sign-Ductor with The Kaos Organisation. They combine singing and signing to promote deaf awareness and inclusion among hearing and deaf children, running workshops in schools and performing with their 200-strong children choir. They’re a wonderful charity and I did the London2Cambridge 100km Challenge to raise money for them in August.

I had been to a few of their family sessions myself and experienced their creativity and enthusiam first hand. This prompted an interest in sign-song and I found several sign-singers online, including Lee’s BSL Songs, Fletch@ and Abbi Signs.

I still watch sign-song videos from time to time. There’s something very tactile and uplifting about seeing songs we know and love reinvented through the medium of sign-language. Sign-language embodies so much meaning via handshapes, expressions and placement and this dovetails perfectly with the lyrics and rhthym found in music tracks.

A new American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation of Adele’s song “Hello” came up in my Facebook feed today and it’s captivating:

My absolute favourite sing-song video though is Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ by the aforementioned Abbi Signs. I’ve never seen the proper music video or heard any of Taylor’s other songs, but whenever this comes on the radio I really have to fight the urge not to burst into sign-singing.

Here it is with a playlist of some others:

I was going to link to a playlist of Lee’s BSL Songs as he did wonderful covers of – amongst others – Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ and Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’, however all trace of them seems to have vanished from the internet.

There are a lot of people attempting sign-song so I’ll keep an eye out and cherry pick some more for this post in future.

In the meantime, press ‘play’ above and enjoy 😀

Did you ‘shake it off’? Have you ever attempted sign-language or even another spoken language?

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