The Gift of Music


Before she lost her hearing completely, music and dance were a huge part of Sharon Serbin’s life. For many years, she was a choreographer, director, and dancer for the Israeli dance troupe for the Pittsburgh Folk Festival, and also performed for a Latin American/Spanish dance group.

She also used to dance almost every night with friends for fun; square dancing, swing, folk, jazz, and just going out to dance with friends.

While Sharon grew up hard of hearing, she went completely deaf at age 18. She continued to dance, though she had to perform barefoot to feel the vibrations of the music in the floor. However, as sound systems became more technologically advanced and started to become computerized, she could no longer feel the vibrations necessary, so dancing became less and less of a hobby.

However, just recently, she attended a party at her friend and co-worker’s house, and the party’s music was being played on a wireless Bluetooth Harmon Kardon speaker. Sharon decided she’d go up to it and see if she could feel the vibrations. She could, and they were very strong! She was able to hold the speaker against herself, and this allowed her to dance along with the music!

Her co-workers were so touched by watching her dance with “tremendous joy,” that they all pitched in, and gave her a Harmon Kardon speaker of her very own as a Hanukkah gift.

Sharon and one of the HDS clients, Alecia, dancing with the new speaker, just moments after it was presented to her.

“This speaker is amazing. It gave me back music. All the songs that still play in my mind (pre-deaf music from 1979 and before), I can now pull up on Pandora or YouTube and play them, feeling them with the speaker, singing along with the lyrics… and dancing my heart out,” Sharon testified of the speaker and the experience.

It is Sharon’s hope that more people can be given “music back” using these types of speakers.

Sharon Serbin works at the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services in Pittsburgh as a Life Skills Program Coordinator. She’s grateful to her co-workers David Cummings, Amy Deluce, and friend Robbie Ali that gave her the gift of music this holiday season.

By Brittany Bender