By: Meg Crane For Metro Published on Sun Nov 22 2015

You don’t have to hear to be a drummer.

“Our students just won a fairly prestigious award,” said Jim Coleman, the woodworking and drumming teacher at Manitoba School for the Deaf (MSD).

Students Sommer Halcrow and Jaden Mazur, and former student Donelle Chartrand-Homstrom were presented with a Defty award for their original piece of music, Renshu Taiko, on Nov. 21.

Coleman teaches both drum-making and playing at the school, and said some students are even sent to Japan to learn different drumming techniques.

Mazur was one of the students who made the overseas trip, despite being unsure about his interest in drumming when he started playing three years ago, he said through an interpreter.

Mazur said he didn’t think he would enjoy playing an instrument as he can’t hear music, but once he started learning, he discovered that he could feel the music through vibrations.

“Ever since then, I just kind of fell in love with it."

Chartrand-Holmstrom was on the same trip to Japan and also had a slow start withdrumming.

“At first, I felt really awkward with it,” he said. Now, he’s been drumming for five years.

There aren’t opportunities in Winnipeg for deaf drummers outside of the school, said Principal Ricki Hall, so Chartrand-Holmstrom gets his fix at MSD despite having graduated.

These three students weren’t the only from MSD who entered the competition and another drumming group from the school also got an honourable mention at the ceremony, said Coleman. But they’re not stopping to enjoy the victory.

All three students are working on their own drums, while Hall and Coleman are experimenting with ways to incorporate light into future performances.

The Deafty Awards were created in the 1980s by the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf to promote and recognize artists in the deaf community.