Study With Sherry

Training and Intensive Workshops Sherry Hicks, MFA, CSC

Musically Inspired ASL Storytelling is a phenomenon first used by Sherry Hicks when working with music and American Sign Language (ASL). She has actively put the craft to good use since April 1991. This first came about through the collaboration and creative work of two Oh-Codas, (only hearing members of Deaf families- and Deaf siblings). Sheila Jacobs and Sherry Hicks. Their coming together was reflected in a creative manner using ASL and music to tell stories. Sometimes the ASL “fit” the music and sometimes not.

This term, “Musically Inspired ASL Storytelling” outlined below describes what the craft entails. This craft is applied when song-signing takes place, the “artist or teller” breaks form and signs the song to audiences with the song itself as merely a backdrop providing musical entertainment or audio playback of the musical selection; but signing-wise a whole other matter takes place.

In accessing the visual-gestural realm, an explosion of symmetry, rhythm, and handshape play are delivered in a flurry that accents the music heard. Along with this, there is a storyline that is loosely connected to the music heard by employing yet another aspect; the personal or cultural translation. Once in a while the ASL may match the music on a certain beat to give it more flavor and punch. The story will often be a departure from the original- often adding a personal or cultural (Deaf-centric, Coda-centric) translation, purely for engaging these audiences in storytelling. The use of other elements listed below may be all used or not. Employing these features often gets favorable results.

Sherry Hicks developed a workshop in February of 2000 and first debut this particular topic and craft in Atlanta, Georgia at Perimeter College for interpreters and students. She along with long time collaborator Michael Velez unveiled their secrets of “translation work” along with the elements of “musically inspired ASL storytelling”.

The workshop takes participants on a journey that is a step beyond interpreting, although the interpreting process is applied. What is developed and focused upon is introducing the elements of “musically inspired ASL storytelling”. These include: rhythm, symmetry, handshape play, along with personal and/or cultural translation. Important skill building in the use of the Visual Vernacular, (V.V.) a term coined by Bernard Bragg, is vital to the on going advanced development of sign language interpreters work. The V.V. includes all human movement within the film frame and outlines the use of different relationships including a close-up of a certain character, and its use in space. Other relationships include: slow motion/fast motion, panoramic view, zooming, and role shift. Practice with characterizations and the exchange of going back and forth between the long shot/close up of the character and/or the use of space.

These elements make for a dynamic interesting workshop sure to move participants to new heights in their understanding and incorporation of these elements of ASL that are so vital for success in communication in ASL.


Workshop Series

ASL Storytelling I, II, III
(Beginning to Advanced)
Focus: Elements of the ASL story, Role shift, Eyegaze, Use of space, Characterizations, Classifiers, NMS integration.
Description: Students will gain both linguistic and practical hands on experiential understanding by participation in the telling of ASL stories. Embedded within these ASL stories is Deaf culture information. Students achieve this goal by learning the aspects of ASL storytelling including: role shift, eye gaze, characterizations, use of classifiers along with the general aspects of how to build a story in American Sign Language. Students rarely have the opportunity to tell these stories in ASL. The goal of this module is to gain these pertinent skills to self monitor for overall skill enhancement and a deeper understanding of ASL storytelling in all its aspects. The aim of fluency building for educational interpreters who work with young Deaf and hard of hearing children is to be clear, accurate and fluid. This will benefit the student seeking overall improvement of expressive ASL skills from introductory to advanced users of ASL.

Performance Interpreting I, II, III
(Stage Interpreting: Best Practices)
Description: Participants will gain both a theoretical and practical hands on experiential understanding of the challenges in music interpreting by exploring all aspects of performance interpreting. Embedded within the translation process are kernels of meaning that must be conveyed to Deaf and HOH consumers. How does the practitioner communicate this meaning if it originates in a low context manner juxtaposed against the high contextual nature of ASL? These cultural and linguistic questions will be explored within both a theoretical framework and a practical application.

Effective Team Interpreting- Plus!
(Deaf, hearing, Coda)

Terps’ Toolbox-
(Hands On & Diagnostics)

Frozen Texts and Interpreting
(Standard Translations)

Interpreting Children’s Stories
(K-12 or Educational Interpreters)

Musically Inspired ASL Storytelling and YOU!
(Breaking form- ASL Improvisation)

List of Workshops presented 2002-2003
June 27, 2002 Performance Interpreting I Boston MA
Sept 23, 2002 Coda is… National Literary Society
95th Anniversary
Washington, DC
Dec 7, 2002 ASL Storytelling and You! Gallaudet University
Washington, DC
Jan 10-11, 2003 Performance Interpreting
Feb 11 and
May 15, 2003
ASL Storytelling for Montgomery County Educational Interpreters
Rockville, MD
Feb 21, 22 ASL Storytelling Intensive Searcy, Arkansas
March 1, 2003 CODA is… Metro Wash. Deaf and HOH
Washington, DC
March 29, 2003 ASL Storytelling for the Working Interpreter Sponsor CSD- Frederick
Frederick MD
April 5, 2003 ASL Storytelling MIRID
Lansing, Michigan
April 12, 2003 ASL Storytelling Region 5 RID
Yuba City, CA
May 22-23, 2003 Sexuality & Spirituality Deaf Seniors of America
Boston MA
June 25, 2003 Effective Team Work Gallaudet University
Visitors Center
Washington, DC
July 14, 2003 Coda in the Arts
Co-presented with G. Lensbower
20th Coda Conference
Buffalo NY
Aug 22, 23 Performance Interpreting Advanced Boston MA
Sept 6, 2003 ASL Storytelling Catonsville, MD
Sept 13, 2003 ASL Storytelling I JCCC
Kansas City, MO.
Sept 20, 2003 ASL Storytelling II CSD- Silver Spring, MD
Oct 4, 2003 ASL Storytelling I KYRID Annual Conference
Bowling Green, KY
Oct 25, 2003 ASL Storytelling II JCCC
St Louis, MO
Nov 2, 2003 Advanced ASL Storytelling PCRID Annual Conference
Washington DC
Nov 28-29, 2003 A Template for the Signed Language Story Bi-Bi Conference
Rome, Italy
Dec 5-6, 2003 Hearing Children of Deaf Parents Brescia, Italy
Dec 13, 2003 ASL Storytelling III JCCC
St Louis, MO

One Response so far.

  1. tera gold says:

    I enjoyed your rich words. awesome stuff. I hope you write more. I will carry on reading

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