Jenna Teaches a New Way to Sing

Jenna, a young woman with hearing loss, prepares to teach sign language to the inclusive Variety Children's Chorus via a Zoom rehearsal.

A portion of this week’s virtual Variety Children’s Chorus rehearsals wasn’t about singing – at least, not in the way you might think. Instead, Chorus members learned how to sing using sign language when Variety Teen Jenna joined the group as a guest teacher.

Jenna, who has hearing loss, was perfect for the job. Not only is she a pro at sign language, but she is also well versed in the performing arts. Jenna has played many roles on stage, both as part of the Variety Theatre Children’s Ensemble and in other shows with other companies. Her talents will be showcased again this year when she plays Zaneeta Shinn in this fall’s Variety Theatre production, The Music Man.

During rehearsal, Jenna patiently walked the Chorus through the signs needed to perform the chorus of a song. She then put it all together to show them how it should look during a performance.

The song she taught, “Can You Hear Me,” is written from the perspective of someone who is deaf, so, naturally, it includes sign language. It is the perfect song for our Chorus to sing, and they will perform it for their friends and families during a private virtual concert later this spring.

"Because (the song) is about hoping that people can see and feel the same things we're feeling, and hear the same things we're feeling, I think it works perfectly with the mission of Variety, to try to work with students from all sorts of different backgrounds,” says Dr. Jeffrey Carter, Director of the Variety Children’s Chorus. “So that's why I chose it for the Chorus."

And, thanks to Jenna’s direction and expertise, the Chorus will now be able to perform it the way it was meant to be seen!

Thank you, Jenna, for joining us as a fantastic guest teacher! We can’t wait to see the Chorus put together the full performance using their new sign language skills and knowledge.