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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Artistic Reflections II: Jane Perry

Jane Perry has been deaf since about age two. She says,
Jane Perry has been deaf since about age two. She says, "[For me] everything is visual...When I see a piece of music, I visualize it and 'hear' with perfect pitch."
Additional photos below »

By Angela Wampler | December 24, 2007

Jane Perry teaches piano and composes music, although she has been deaf since about age two. She said, "I may not hear the way others do. I actually have limited hearing on the piano with help of hearing aids. [For me] everything is visual...lovely motions that I see are like music. When I see a piece of music, I visualize it and 'hear' with perfect pitch; everything comes in a picture to my mind. The remainder of how it all comes about is with the help of the Lord. I am very dependent on Him."

Perry's composition, "An Encounter," was inspired by "The Mawddach Valley," a painting by Claude Hayes. The music opens with the sound of horse's hooves, then a violin begins to play the melody which represents a man in a horse-drawn wagon riding slowly up a hill along an unpaved, country road; you hear the labored climbing. When the man arrives at the summit, he is rewarded with a breathtaking view. As the piece comes to its conclusion, the music indicates that the man has been both inspired and refreshed. At the end, only horse's hooves are heard, finally fading away into the distance.

"When I saw the action in the painting of a man riding in a wagon, pulled by a horse on a country road, and the background scenery, I felt inspired to capture the mood of the scene in music," Perry explains. "I visualized the concrete scene as I composed the music, having the sounds of the horse's hooves with the sounds of nature's beauty. The scenery of the mountains inspired me to make the melody for a violin that was jagged like the mountains but soulful like the yearning of the man to get to his destination. In other compositions, I simply use my imagination for visualization."

After viewing the painting, Perry said, "I 'heard' the piece in my mind as I drove 45 minutes on the way back to my home. I was not worried about losing it. It was already 'in' me. It was two weeks later when I put the violin theme down on paper. The middle theme, representing the scene of nature, came to me in Asheville, and I completed the details in my mind all during the trip coming home over the mountains."


BOB GREENE JR. organist for State Street United Methodist Church in Bristol.
ANN HOLLER teaches piano and is a lecturer in music at King College in Bristol.
BETH McCOY of Abingdon, Va. directs the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy and is a diaconal minister in the United Methodist Church.
EVELYN PURSLEY-KOPITZKE was previously featured in "The Arts as Therapy" (August 2007) edition of A! Magazine for the Arts.


Q & A with the composers.

Jane Perry's composition, "An Encounter," was inspired by a painting by Claude Hayes. Shown is "The Mawddach Valley."