Mandy Harvey: The Courage to Have an Infinite Number of Dreams

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Talking Up Music Education is a podcast from The NAMM Foundation about music education. Recorded live from 2018 Summer NAMM, episode 59 includes an interview with the Kala artist, vocalist, and America's Got Talent contestant Mandy Harvey.

Harvey found her voice after a devastating hearing loss that derailed her plans to become a vocal teacher. Through family encouragement and the realization that at her core, she was a musician who just happens to be deaf, Harvey relearned to play music and to sing by feeling the vibrations of the instrument along with the assistance of a visual tuner.

“I'm finding a different way to experience music. The fact that I'm a musician didn't change just because I couldn't hear. I'm a singer, I song write; that's who I am. I just happened to be deaf. I'm not a deaf singer, you know?” said Harvey. “Now when I sing, I sing so much more freely than I ever have before, because I can't tell myself it wasn’t good enough.  I feel like the whole experience has caused me to become a better person, but a better musician as well.”

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“Music was my world. It was everything. Then, I was so impacted by my teachers that I really wanted to become a teacher. I had no ambition to be a performer. I thought that performers, you had to have to something like a little wrong in your head to force yourself to be in that position again and again and again. It was just terrifying.” - Mandy Harvey

“[You have] two choices. One, you can allow yourself to stay there in that dark place every day, again and again, again, again, again. You know what tomorrow's going to look like and the next day and the next day, and where does it go? Nowhere. Or you can make the really difficult decision, the painful decision, to start clawing your way out to the potential of a better tomorrow.”- Mandy Harvey

On watching her dad play guitar, “ I know how to make the chords. I can't hear, but I can see my fingers, and they know their way. So feeling the rhythm and then paying attention for the first time how much the instrument vibrates on your chest, down your arm, on your fingertips, and experiencing music in a different way was really encouraging to me.” - Mandy Harvey

“The sound waves don't stop just because I can't absorb them in one part of my body. Your body is made up of water, 80-something percent, and so all of that sound is hitting you from all these different angles all over the place and traveling up and down. The reason why you hear is because a wave hit the eardrum, went in. So, it's hitting me; it's just not hitting that specific piece, but it’s hitting here and here and here and here.” - Mandy Harvey

“I started talking into balloons… so I could get a gage on dynamics for how loud I need to talk, how loud I need to project.” - Mandy Harvey

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Talking Up Music Education is a podcast produced by The NAMM Foundation about music education. Host Mary Luehrsen chats with teachers, parents, students and community leaders who share stories about what they are doing to create music learning opportunities. Please download, share and subscribe to keep up with the stories that make a difference in music education advocacy.

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