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Musicians with Hearing Aids


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GUEST,vixen@work 13 Feb 02 - 09:30 AM
C-flat 13 Feb 02 - 09:43 AM
Bill D 13 Feb 02 - 12:26 PM
Matthew Edwards 13 Feb 02 - 12:48 PM
bet 13 Feb 02 - 01:12 PM
katlaughing 13 Feb 02 - 01:58 PM
Ebbie 13 Feb 02 - 08:15 PM
Bill D 13 Feb 02 - 09:26 PM
53 13 Feb 02 - 09:45 PM
Mark Cohen 14 Feb 02 - 04:33 AM
Dave Bryant 14 Feb 02 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,Vixen @ Work 14 Feb 02 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Don Meixner 14 Feb 02 - 08:52 AM
Bill D 14 Feb 02 - 06:23 PM
Amergin 14 Feb 02 - 06:36 PM
artbrooks 14 Feb 02 - 08:03 PM
Vinland 14 Feb 02 - 09:32 PM
DonMeixner 14 Feb 02 - 09:47 PM
Ebbie 14 Feb 02 - 10:47 PM
katlaughing 15 Feb 02 - 01:29 AM
Mark Cohen 15 Feb 02 - 01:54 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 16 Feb 02 - 12:47 AM
Watson 27 Mar 02 - 09:39 AM
GUEST,Vixen @ work 27 Mar 02 - 10:11 AM
Watson 27 Mar 02 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Vixen @ wk 27 Mar 02 - 11:11 AM
MMario 27 Mar 02 - 11:27 AM
winniemih 28 Mar 02 - 10:45 AM
Desert Dancer 28 Mar 02 - 01:22 PM
Steve Parkes 26 Feb 03 - 04:28 AM
Sarah the flute 26 Feb 03 - 05:53 AM
GUEST,Gern 26 Feb 03 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Les B. 26 Feb 03 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,Guest Jimk 26 Feb 03 - 12:23 PM
Allan C. 26 Feb 03 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Gern 27 Feb 03 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,VIXEN@WORK 28 Feb 03 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,Matthew Edwards 11 Jul 03 - 06:24 AM
Steve Parkes 11 Jul 03 - 07:56 AM
Noreen 11 Jul 03 - 09:17 AM
Mrs.Duck 11 Jul 03 - 11:46 AM
PoppaGator 11 Jul 03 - 06:08 PM
GUEST,PAMO 12 Jul 03 - 12:32 PM
Steve Parkes 05 Sep 03 - 08:30 AM
Vixen 05 Sep 03 - 02:41 PM
harpgirl 20 Mar 04 - 06:18 PM
Matthew Edwards 20 Mar 04 - 08:10 PM
Bill D 20 Mar 04 - 08:31 PM
Stepper 20 Mar 04 - 08:42 PM
harpgirl 20 Mar 04 - 08:59 PM
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Subject: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,vixen@work
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 09:30 AM

OK Mudcats--I know I'm not alone here...

How many of us want to admit we're wearing hearing aids???

I've been wearing them off and on since I was 8. Today, I go for my first "annual" checkup--up to last year, I was on a "every five years" checkup schedule. Last year, I slipped from "mild to moderate" into "moderate to severe," a rather big jump, considering there had been very little change over the previous 30 years. I know this topic has appeared from time to time (I did a forum search on hearing aids!) but I'm looking for some detailed info. Any thoughts you have on the topic are gratefully appreciated!

So here's the questions:

1) If you wear hearing aids, what are you wearing and how do you like it?

2) If you wear hearing aids, what instrument do you play, and how do the aids affect your playing?

3) If you wear hearing aids and SING, I'd like to know how you do it...

4) I've been reading that singing and other musical endeavors can actually exacerbate/accelerate hearing loss...what has your experience been?

Thank you much!!!


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: C-flat
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 09:43 AM

I'm not a hearing aid wearer but have played with some wonderful musicians who are! I must admit to being curious as to how difficult it was to operate in a band with so many other sound frequencies at once but these guy's clearly didn't have a problem and I felt a little uncomfortable raising the topic with them.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 12:26 PM

If you are in the moderate to severe range, part of this will not apply but here goes...

I got aids for both ears two years ago....kinda expensive digital ones. They do help, but they are not magic wands that make everything perfect.(Mine are Danavox..but remember, the advances are so rapid, like computers, that top brands & features change pretty fast)

Since I do not have 'profound' hearing loss, I can get by without them, but for some situations, they are a GREAT help. (Most of my problems are in high frequency ...with some general volume loss).

Digitals can be programmed to do lots of trick these days, from volume control to directionality (which is what I got..I can choose 'surround sound' or focus on either 180° or narrow 'straight ahead' sound.

As to music, it helps me hear when the overall sound level is ok...that is, when I am singing or playing (autoharp), or when a single singer or small group is performing...but I have real problems when the noise level goes up...(like a big, group sea chanty..WOW!...OFF go the aids!)

It is a real art form to program these things just right to get close to 'normal' hearing, as the patient often is not sure anymore what normal IS....several trys are often necessary to get an acceptable balance.

When I am playing autoharp, I 'usually' do without the left one and just rest my ear on the 'harp as usual, but for singing, it depends on whether I am alone or in a group...I often remove one or the other of the aids to see what 'feels' best. (Cupping the hand too close can cause feedback*shrug*)

for many detailed answers froma MUCH wider variety of users, you might try the newsgroup (which you can access thru Google Groups or your own server, perhaps.

I read this a LOT when about to get aids,,,info on prices, batteries, tricks, etc......

good luck...let me know if I can be more specific

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 12:48 PM

Bill D thanks for that information. I wear an old- fashioned National Health Service behind the ear device in one ear, and am completely deaf in the other ear. I have had a severe to profound hearing loss since age five after a bout of measles (hence I have very strong views on the importance of vaccination BTW), and always wear my aid.

As a child my music teachers told me I was hopeless at recognising notes, and so up until a year ago I never considered singing or playing but simply enjoyed listening to others. However at Towersey Festival last year I joined in the singing in the Barn, went on to Llanstock and sang some more, started writing some of my own songs, which I have since sung in folk clubs and just last weekend at the Stony Stratford Gathering. I wish I had done this sooner!!

I'd have to admit that my pitch can "wobble" a bit, and I'm not very good in harmonies as the note I think I'm singing isn't necessarily the one I'm actually uttering. I do have to put up with a lot of distortion of sound, and I cannot cope in any environment where there is a lot of noise. I am waiting for the day when the NHS issues digital aids generally, and hope that it will be in my lifetime.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: bet
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 01:12 PM

Matthew, Every time I hear a story like yours it makes me wonder what those music teachers were thinking of. It really is unkind to tell a child there is no hope. There is always hope. As long as the child is doing his/her best that is all we can ask for. bet

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 01:58 PM

Yeah, but then bet you are an exceptional teacher and there just aren't many as good as you or who care as much as you do.*smile* I'd say that even if I wasn't your sister!

Mathew, good for you! Glad you went to the Mudgatherings and started singing!

I have a theory that I've posted somewhere before that playing violin/fiddle causes one ear to hear betterwith one ear than the other. I cam constantly listening more with my left ear, I think because of that, but I've never had it checked to see if that is really so. Then, again, if I cock my head to hear something better, I invariably use my right more, so who knows!?


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Ebbie
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 08:15 PM

Thanks for this topic. I have a fiddler friend whose hearing loss has become quite evident and who goes 'off' far enough that several other lead players (mandolin and banjo) really don't want to play with him anymore. They say that if he were to switch to a fretted instrument, such as a mando, which he also plays, that it would buy him a lot of playing time.

The friend has mentioned his hearing loss to me but I've never told him that we're aware of it. Is there a tactful way of encouraging him to check out hearing aids? From what I hear (no pun intended), often the aids are not really all that helpful- and they certainly are expensive for a retired guy such as he is.

On the other hand, he's been in a band since he was 15 years old and music is the number one thing in his life...


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 09:26 PM

the REALLY good one are not cheap...but even one can help..The real job is to get him to an audiologist for a test to find out what is needed.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: 53
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 09:45 PM

If i'd kept on playing with my band I probaly would have lost my hearing very soon, cause we played so loud. As far as I can tell, right now I can hear pretty good.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 04:33 AM

Bob, if you played a lot of loud rock music, you may have lost more hearing than you think. I'd suggest a visit to a good may not know how much you're missing. To find a reputable audiologist, check out the website of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association -- there's also general information there about hearing loss and hearing aids.

By the way, vixen, I searched the ASHA site for "music", and couldn't find anything specific. But I'll bet if you asked them, they could point you to an audiologist with a special interest in musicians, who might be able to give you some useful information.

Mark (who fortunately hears OK, but some of my little patients don't)

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 06:03 AM

I have quite a serious hearing loss in my left ear since I was attacked with a chair in a pub bar twenty or so years ago. (No Breezy and others - not because someone didn't like my singing !)

When I sing with Linda you'll notice she always stands to my right - otherwise I have difficulty hearing her. I do have a standard "behind the ear" National Health hearing aid, but find it more hindrance than help when I'm singing.

Are the more expensive aids much better ? If so, in what way - louder - clearer - wider frequency responce - smaller ?

Also what sort of prices are we talking ?

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Vixen @ Work
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 08:27 AM

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Mudcats are the best!

I've had impressions taken for in-the-ear Siemens Signia Digital 2-channel programmable aids. They spozedly on a special purchase deal until the end of February, and they will run me about $3800 for the pair. The top-of-the line digital programmable aids would be around $4800 the pair. I'm going to try the Signias and see how they do for me...ANYTHING will be an improvement over my linear analog BTE aids from 1987. If the Signias don't cut it, my audiologist is more than willing to help me figure out what will work.

I go for my fitting the first week of March...I'll post an update and let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I'm still interested in what other musicians are doing with hearing aids.

To answer some of the questions that have come up on the thread:

My left ear is better than my right--so Reynaud always plays on my left side when we're playing together, so I can hear him better. I don't have a problem when I'm playing music with others explaining that I don't hear well, and asking for their assistance with various things. I don't mind questions about my hearing (or lack thereof) from folks who want to make music with me.

I have found my current hearing aids are more of a nuisance than an aid when I'm playing/singing...they simultaneously distort sound and muffle it while amplifying it. This is a function of a combination of analog linear signal processing and ear channel occlusion.

Frets help--I like to plunk around on the fiddle, but I could never play it for real. I wish I had "frets" on my voice, so I could be sure I was always *close* to the right note!

As for tactfully getting someone to have his or her hearing checked, I haven't a clue--my problem was diagnosed in the school system when I was in first grade, and tact was not a concern. The conversation about hearing might be a good place to start...and explore *gently* the idea of getting an evaluation done. It's completely painless and mostly boring. "Press this button when you hear a sound" for about 90 minutes in a soundproof box, followed by "repeat these words" for abount an hour.

Thank you all again!


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Don Meixner
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 08:52 AM

Due to menengitis a sa child in the 50's i lost the hearing in my right ear. I know that in my good ear I hear tones in some frequencies better than others. I have asked about hearing aids off an through the years and was told that they would be a waste of money. My other ear worked well so why bother. Lately I have come to learn that a simple operation will reattach my hearing in that ear, I am hesitant to do it because the possibility of unending tinitus is quite high. Over stimulation of the un used for auditory nerve. I am aware that I have less hearing in my good ear now and this reattachment becomes more of interest to me.

As I work with many speach language pathologists I have a supply of free advice. They think in about 50/50 terms that I should have the op now and not have it at all. I'm in a quandry here so I'll sit it out and read with interest this thread and may be opt for a hearing aid for the good ear.


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 06:23 PM

the price Vixen mentions is approximately the range I paid a couple of years ago....for this you get modern digital technology that can analyze the sound coming in and convert it to the volume and tonal range missing from your own hearing,,,sort of....One thing that is a bit strange is the sound of you own voice being re-cycled, as if you were listening to 'you' from a distance. Weird till you get used to it!

But it really makes a difference not sayin 'huh'? to questions from around a corner. Progress in hearing aids is amazing, and it is always worth trying them!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Amergin
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 06:36 PM

This is interesting to me....I have had problems hearing everything all of my life...and as a result alot of times mumble when I think I am talking loud enough or talk loud when I think I am mumbling (that last has gotten me into lots of trouble)...and have been thinking strongly about getting them.....though have not gotten around to it....

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: artbrooks
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 08:03 PM

I've worn aids (bilateral) since I was about 25...55 now. Just got new ones (Starkey Model SACQSS) that are very different. It's not that they're in-the-ear, since I've worn that type for about 20 years, or even that they are set to amplify different frequencies at different rates. They are also set to "always" broadcast (if that's the correct word) at a set level, so that occasional sudden loud sound doesn't blow you away. I'm still not sure about that feature.

They can be very hard to get used to initially, but I doubt if my marriage would have lasted without them. I'm not a musician, unless you count the nose flute and bodhran, but they definitely make listening more pleasant. Ebbie, I think your fiddler friend would benefit.

BTW, US veterans MAY be able to get them from the VA, and saving $4-$6k is probably worth the effort.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Vinland
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 09:32 PM

Great thread folks!

Like Don M, I've been deaf in one ear since early childhood. Although it's caused a few embarrassing moments (eg. not responding to 'sweet nothings' while close dancing!) I've managed fairly well so far. (I play classical and folk guitar, write songs, and publish songbooks). Lately I've been wondering if I should check out the new technologies, or consider having an operation (I've been told I have 'nerve deafness' in my right ear.) A recent CBC radio "First Person" program featured an amateur singer who raved about his new hearing aid, allowing him to sing harmony much better. Hearing aids probably wouldn't benefit me much (and may damage my good ear) but I've recently become interested in the in-ear monitors that many rock singers have been using recently. They're not cheap (+$500CN for decent ones I believe) but might be very beneficial for the times I sing with others. Many people with 'normal' hearing don't realize how much they rely on their ears for finding the direction of a sound. I suspect there are a few things I'm missing in music - I can't hear the stereo effect, have difficulty separating my voice from those around me, etc. You wonder how much better you might be....


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: DonMeixner
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 09:47 PM


Hev considered in ear monitors and researched them some. In a trial I found them , ah, it to be just OK and at times a problem. I could hear only the mix and none of the ambient sound. Also I couldn't hear messages from the guys in the band unless they used the micro phone. Which made it dificult for Jim to point out the "Stunner" who just came in from the extreme cold with only blue jeans and a jersey between her and the night air.

I prefered the old Peavy Hot Spot monitor on a stand at about chest level. I hear all I need to then.

About surgery. Unless there is something new I was told nerve deafness in not repairable unless you go with cochlear implants. Large dollars I'd imagine.


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Ebbie
Date: 14 Feb 02 - 10:47 PM

My friend is out of town at the moment (at the Whitehorse, Yukon Territory Frostbite Festival) but when he comes back, I'm going to be armed with information. Ah, but tact is NOT my strong suit...


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 01:29 AM

Ebbie, he might be relieved that someone has noticed and is brave enough to bring it up and is willing to talk with him and help him out with it. Print this thread'll be a good back-up!:-)

I guess I will go to an audiologist sometime this year. My grandmother told my mom that the women in my family should get their hearing checked. When she had to start wearing hearing aids the docs told her it was probably hereditary and could have been corrected when she was younger, if they'd known about it.

Still, I asked my GP for a hearing check and the woman who did it was suprised at the high range I could hear; she said it was fairly unusual.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing. It's an interesting thread.


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 01:54 AM

By the way, for kat and others with a history of hearing loss that runs in the family, there is a known association between familial hearing problems and familial kidney problems (the classic case is called Alport's syndrome). So have your blood pressure checked and ask your doctor about a couple of simple lab tests to make sure your kidneys are OK. Most kidney disease is "silent" -- no symptoms until it's far advanced.


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 12:47 AM


Please speak into the cow's horn!@!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Watson
Date: 27 Mar 02 - 09:39 AM

Refreshed as requested.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Vixen @ work
Date: 27 Mar 02 - 10:11 AM

--Watson: Thank you Thank you!!!

Ok folks, here's the update! I've had the Signias nearly a month, and have had one readjustment.

The "normal" program is phenomenal! I can hear all sorts of interesting things that had faded out over the years--Spring peepers and my cat being two of them (not at the same time--Buddy thinks of spring peepers as hors d'ouevres!) Conversations in groups and individually are MUCH MUCH easier. Teaching, where non-confident student responses to pedagogical inquiry tend toward the inaudible, has become far less of a frustration.

There are some things to get used to...hearing myself eat and breathe took some adaptation. Hearing my hair falling around my ears when it's loose was interesting, as was hearing my braids thumping on my back when I ride. Wind noise is a persistent annoyance.

Musically, however, I'm still of mixed mind. Singing (as in pitch perception and reproduction) is much more difficult than it was with no aids. For speech, I don't mind my voice sounding louder and different. For singing, I can't tell anything about what I sound like anymore, and am relying completely on Reynaud for guidance (sharp? flat? too loud? too soft??? too mumbly???) On the other hand--instruments sound WONDERFUL! No more distortion in the very highs and the very lows. My recorder sounds sooooo nice, and my guitar, which I always thought sounded good (better when played by someone who KNOWS how to play) has a wonderful warm sound that I never knew I understand why people are surprised that it's not an expensive guitar...

SOOOO. There's the update.

The new questions:

1) If you wear hearing aids and sing--How DO you do it??? How long did it take to get used to the oddity of what the aids do to your voice? BillD, I can't wait to see you at FSGW this fall to compare notes...

2) If anyone knows an audiologist who specializes in working with musicians, I'd love a name and number. I've searched around the web, but haven't found anyone. My audiologist is wonderful, but he admits the things I'm reporting in the music program are things he doesn't really have much experience with.

Thank you much!

And Watson--thanks again for finding the thread for me!


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Watson
Date: 27 Mar 02 - 10:25 AM

My pleasure Vixen.
My hearing is OK, so I have no direct experience of what you describe, but do you think it would be similar to hearing your own voice from a recording?
If that's the case, it just sounds odd because it's not the way you are accustomed to hearing it.
I think you just get used to it in time.
I think my own voice sounds awful!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Vixen @ wk
Date: 27 Mar 02 - 11:11 AM

Well, Watson, I know what you're saying about the recorded voice...I hate my voice on tape. If I get recorded for public consumption, I'll be one of those artists who never listens to themselves! I use the recorder strictly in private, just to iron out my weak spots. The effect I've got now, however, is different. When I sing wearing the hearing aids, I get a combination of the following sensations:

1) having my fingers in my ears (sort of muffled, but somehow louder)

2) a sort of reverb or maybe chorus effect (I assume it's because I'm getting my voice processed twice--once directly through bone conduction to my auditory nerves and once indirectly through the digital processing)

3) "finding my note" when kicking off a song seems to be more difficult, because my voice now sounds so much different than it used to. It takes me three or four tries to find the note. However, last night Reynaud and I had a "breakthrough:" he transposed a song we do to a better key for his harmony part, and I couldn't find my note at all. Finally, he told me to just listen as he played the whole song through on guitar, and then come in when he got to the verse the second time. I listened and listened, and couldn't find my notes anywhere, but when he got to the verse the second time around, I started in RIGHT ON PITCH! I have NO idea how it happened, but after that, I got my note right away on that song. We're going to try the same trick on the rest of our material (that should keep us busy for a couple of years...)

So...anybody else in the same boat???


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: MMario
Date: 27 Mar 02 - 11:27 AM

Vixen - I have that problem with EVERY song!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: winniemih
Date: 28 Mar 02 - 10:45 AM

I wear bilateral hearing aids ( just paid big bucks for digital in the canal Starkeys to replace my old analog pair). Musically, I play guitar and sing, and play fiddle. When I'm switching from one instrument to the other I have to make a lot of adjustments. With the fiddle to my left ear, I have the volume on the aide on that side turned way down (as close to off as it goes) and I have to stand to the left of others I'm playing with or I can't hear them (the right volume is only down a little). When I sing I need to have the volume in both ears at normal or my voice sounds distorted. I can't play without them, however, as my pitch is way off (my loss is in the higher frequencies).

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Mar 02 - 01:22 PM

Thanks for this interesting thread. My dad, who was a fine singer, is now (at 81) very deaf. It's been a struggle - for him have to work so hard to interact with people (like me, he's a bit shy) and a struggle for me, as I get to where I'm appreciating my family history of music, to have him losing touch with it.

He has been wearing hearing aids for about 10 years (maybe more). I know nothing of the technical details, but 2 or 3 year's back he went to the kind with with the piece behind the ear.

Mom spent several years complaining of "ear wax" and people mumbling and now has a set of aids herself.

About a year ago I got infections in both ears and spent several scary days in a very impaired state and I bless my lucky stars that everything's back to normal now. More power to those of you who cope with it continually.

~ Becky in Tucson

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Subject: Instrument + Induction loop?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 04:28 AM

Well, I've just joined the club! I have an NHS behind-the-ear analogue type hearing aid, which I'm wearing in my right ear; I'm waiting for an ear-piece for my left ear so I can wear it either side. I've had it a week, and I don't know yet whether it's much help -- everyone I know seems to mumble anyway! I have some loss at high frequencies, but my low-mid range is OK.

I tried it at the folk club last Thursday, and took it out before we got under way: there was too much noise from people talking, tuning and warming up. Now, my main problem is: I can't hear what I'm playing very clearly, as the others drown me out. But my mandolin and my new guitar both have built-in electronics, so I wonder if I can connect an induction loop device to them and use my HA on "T"? This would boost the sound of my own instrument, while I could still hear everyone else as usual through my other ear, but without the noise from the HA's mic.

Has anyone tried this, or can anyone offer advice or suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Sarah the flute
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 05:53 AM

This thread is amazing!
We recently had a school inspection and much hilarity was directed towards the fact that the music inspector wore a very obvious hearing aid!
I think this redresses the balance! .... mudcatters have the last laugh!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Gern
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 11:25 AM

I wear the Siemans digital, programmable hearing aids similar to the ones Vixen describes. They are much better than the cheaper ones I have worn with volume controls. If your hearing is changing, it is a simple matter for an audiologist to readjust them. I have nerve damage and tinitis (sp?) in both ears, from chidhood damage (measles) compounded by loud rock and roll. Over 60% loss in each ear. Without hearing aids,I could not play. It's impossible for me to separate sounds, leading to considerable difficulties when I was a high school teacher. I have no high end to my hearing, so everything sounds muffled and distant. I hear myself better with hearing aids, helping with accuracy and balance. I play piano and banjo primarily, two loud instruments, yet the aids are necessary. It was a revelation to put them on and listen to music, discovering a brightness in my favorite recordings I'd never heard before, even with other hearing aids. My singing too is imporved, again with accuracy and brightness. Just cover your ears sometime and record yourself trying to sing on key.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 11:49 AM

This thread has been a real eye-opener (or should I say ear-opener) - I don't use aids, but know an excellent musician who recently experienced hearing loss, and I've wondered what he was coping with.

At our district fiddle jams there is a woman who plays piano when her husband fiddles. Since the pianos are usually placed so that her back is to him as he plays through the mic, she has a separate little mic and transmitter that she clips to a music stand sitting near the mics. Apparently this is received directly by her hearing aid. She also sets this up in the middle of a "jam circle" so as to hear everything evenly.

I guess the one question I have is why are hearing aids so expensive?
The prices quoted above are more than a top notch stereo system. Is it because of the "captive" market, or that fewer are sold and they need to recoup R&D costs?

What percentage of the population has hearing problems? I know about 10% are left-handed, is there a corresponding figure for hearing loss?

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Guest Jimk
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 12:23 PM

I wear behind the ear aids called a bi- cross. I am completely deaf in my left ear and about 80% deaf in my right.I have Meniere's disease and it's a real horror show trying to play. I play harmonica in a blues band and the notes all sound a whole step too low all the time. My pitch is gone but I carry on as best I can with the help of others in the band.Playing with confidence is a real challenge.I play many solo pieces and trad. irish music. You have to be a little bit nuts to hang on as long as I have.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Allan C.
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 02:26 PM

I spent a horrid amount of money about five years ago for some Miracle Ear aids - the dinky little ones that are inserted in the canals. I am diagnosed with "high hearing loss", meaning that I cannot hear some of the high frequency sounds. (I'm reasonably sure the cause had something to do with being required to operate a jack-hammer inside of an underground concrete vault without proper hearing protection, but who is to say?) Fortunately, my problem is very minor and I can (and do) usually function fairly well without the use of the aids. Some of you might not know what that mean in practical terms and so I will attempt to explain what it is like for those of us who have this problem.

Consonant sounds such as {f and v,} {t, p, k and d,} and s are particularly difficult to discern under certain circumstances because of the high-frequency sounds that are part of what makes them different from one another. Pick a sentence or two from what I have written so far and write them down in pencil. Now erase all instances of those letters I named. Yes, if you look carefully, you can usually still figure out the words; but it isn't very easy. Now, imagine doing that mentally with every sentence you hear. You are getting close to understanding the concept.

The difficulty for many of us who have this problem is that without the use of aids, we find ourselves trying to decipher one sentence (context often offering the chief clues) while the next one is being spoken. Quickly, we get too far behind to be able to make sense of what we have taken in. The more background noise there is, the more difficult the task becomes. We come to rely heavily on reading lips to get a better idea of which sounds are being formed.

It may be hard for you to imagine how exhausting this all can be. I once worked in a convenience store in which lottery tickets were sold. Folks ordering those tickets are not very forgiving when you punch the wrong numbers for them. But fifteen can sound so very much like fifty, you know. And sixty might actually be fifty unless I am lip reading. The level of concentration I had to maintain at all times in order to keep from mishearing someone wore me to a frazzle long before the workday was done.

I have found that there are some people whom I can't hear very well at all without my aids. Sadly, they are all women. I think it may be because some of them speak with especially breathy voices, making it even more difficult to discern consonant sounds.

I can't hear whispers very well. If you stop to think about it, whispering relies very heavily on the consonant sounds, right? So when my lover (Okay, let's assume I have one for the purposes of this discussion, okay?) whispers something at an intimate moment, I will probably have to spoil the moment by asking her to repeat it unless I am wearing my aids.

Most of you who sing know that when singing in a group or in certain other situations when you need to hear yourself, you simply put a finger in one ear. However, let's consider the consequences of putting fingers in both ears. In doing so, you can hear yourself rather loudly, but in an extremely resonant way that is not otherwise possible (without the use of an amplification system). This is nice; but you would quickly find yourself not knowing how loudly you are singing. This is one of the problems with trying to sing while wearing in-the-canal hearing aids. Actually, it can be a problem in everyday conversation as well. For this reason I never wear my aids when I think I might be needing to sing.

Trying to tune my guitar without the use of one of those wonderful Intellitouch devices has become just a little difficult unless I am wearing my aids. I am not really quite sure why. I can usually manage to get somewhere in the general range of the correct pitches; but I think I must not be hearing the finer differences anymore.

I am remembering the first time I tried out my new hearing aids. Suddenly I discovered that I could hear the rush of air through the store's heating ducts. I know that may not seem very impressive to you; but it simply amazed me!

I am sure I don't wear my hearing aids as often as the situation calls for them. In fact, I rarely ever wear them. I feel lucky to still have such an option. The odd thing is (and I have spoken to other aid wearers who have experienced the same thing) after wearing the aids for a period of time, say a week or two, it seems as though my ears somehow re-learn how to hear some of the sounds I have been missing.

My favorite time to wear my aids is when I am walking in the woods and fields. I can hear distant bird chirps, cricket singing and even the rustle of leaves that might otherwise be hidden from my ears. That is so very special for me!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Gern
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 02:28 PM

I can relate to that, Alan C. Upon buying my new hearing aids, I went home and sat in the living room. Then I got up and checked all around the house to find out where the water was running. My wife finally figured it out: it was the river we lived nearby. I had never heard it before. The ringing never stops or recedes, and while playing in bands it was often too loud to allow sleep. Of course, the music career quickly atrophied. As to accomodations taken in ordinary conversation, I'm afraid I have to fake it a lot. One gets tired of saying "Huh?" or otherwise admitting that you can't keep up with everyone else. I still struggle with dialogue on TV at any volume, and rely instinctively on lip reading. The tendency is to give up trying and become withdrawn (perhaps venting in discussion groups like this one.) People tend to talk to you like you are an idiot if they see your hearing aids or realize that you can't hear them. I discovered this to be true also for those who cannot speak. I had to keep totally silent for six weeks to treat nodes on vocal chords, and when I passed notes to people, I was always treated patronizingly. Slowly I realized that I too treated those with special needs in an unintentionally demeaning manner. As to expense, mine cost $5000 and last an average of 5 years. On top of that, there is little likelihood of finding an insurance plan that pays for this medical necessity. Plenty of people have heavier burdens than I, but this is what hearing loss is like for someone whose primary enjoyment is music.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 12:06 PM

Wow! What a surprise to see this thread revived!

I'm momentarily off to the hearing aid office to pick up my right aid, which has been on the fritz for about a month. Fortunately, Siemens is fixing it for free. The first problem was that the volume control wasn't working correctly; I got it back after that, and it wouldn't hold its program, so I sent it back again. Here's hoping it's OK now!

Anyway, playing music with one of my old bte aids and one of my new ite digital aids has been a bit like running a marathon with one foot in a sneaker and one in a dancing slipper.

Allan C, I didn't realize you used hearing aids at all. Your explanation of what I call "blip-blap," the language I hear without my aids, is perfect. And the exhaustion is something to be reckoned with. I burn out after about 90 minutes in group situations. Can't think, can't talk coherently, can't focus my attention for beans.

On the up-side--my pitch perception and "playing by ear" skills have improved dramatically in the last year (since I got the digital aids) but playing/singing with confidence are still a challenge.

Blessings to all of you who are willing to share your experiences here!


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: GUEST,Matthew Edwards
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 06:24 AM

Just reviving this really interesting and (except for Gargoyle's usual crass contribution) helpful thread. I'd love to learn how you are getting on Vixen. I have just spent a small fortune on a new digital aid, after being told that the NHS won't be issuing them locally for another 2 years - and I want better quality hearing now!

After only one day my voice is already changing. Those who know me recognise me by my very clear BBC English accent with a lot of bass, which I've adopted to make me audible to myself! It will be very interesting to see what happens to my singing voice.

It is going to take a while to adapt to the different ways I hear sound, and I'll have to make repeat appointments with my audiologist to get the programming right. I went to a concert last night where the bass notes were very distorted. I'll look up that hearing loss newsgroup for some support and information.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 07:56 AM

I have my other earpices now, and the first one has beed redesigned and works much better. But it's still far from perfect; I'm getting the hang of setting the volume to a useful setting, but I still can't hear what I'm playing if others are playing too. On top of this, my own voice sounds as though my head is underwater! Last week I was told off for singing to quietly -- definitely a first for me! -- because I can't easily judge the volume.

I haven't progressed with my induction loop idea yet, but I'll get it sorted soon. Using headphones with the T setting is a definte improvement, but I don't really want to turn up with cans on my head!


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Noreen
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 09:17 AM

Ooh, Matthew! I'm very interested too in how this will affect your sining voice, and hope it only increases the pleasure you get from music.
Look forward to seeing and hearing you on Saturday!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 11:46 AM

Do you plan to listen in while he sins then Noreen? ;¬) Look forward to hearing the new digital you Matthew!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 06:08 PM

I've recently begun to experience deterioration in my hearing, and it's nothing I ever expected. Instead of the world becoming more silent, it's getting *noisier* and it is getting more and more difficult to hear and understand what people are saying. I can't hear speech above the ambient background sounds.

A simple/conventional hearing aid that simply amplifies all sounds would be no help at all for this syndrome -- in fact, it would make it worse. I have a friend who has had very poor hearing all his life who is now developing this same problem, and he has been prescribed a new and improved hearing aid. The list price is tremendously expensive, but he got some kind of disability subsidy and was asble to afford it.

I suppose this is one of the many deteriorations that comes with "middle" age. (At 55, m hardly elederly -- but than again, I don't really expect to make it to 110, so I'm past the middle of my years, right?)

Hearing music is no problem -- yet, anyway -- it's hearing conversation at the same time as music that is beyond my capability. (Maybe that's a good thing!)

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 12:32 PM

Hi Jim! A friend sent this site to us and we have found it very interesting! My husband has Meniere's as well. He has about 15% left in his right ear and nothing in the left. Some residual. We play as a duo and often with others in larger bands. Irish is the main with some old classics thrown in. He has been playing and performing since he was 16 and we are now in our 50's. Still going though! He has tried many different ways of coping with this. Sometimes with aids, sometimes not.   I think mostly that once he establishes the key away from the mic, I give him the nod, and he sings from memory. Very scary. On bad days, when his head is 'under water' he just can't sing at all.   A horrid situation for a singer/songwriter.   He said he will write himself tomorrow with explanations of his problems and attempts to conquer! All the best and keep on singing!!!

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 08:30 AM

I've recently acquired a device called the "Conversor", through the generosity of my employers. It's made by a firm called Sense-Sonic,and comprises a radio microphone and a receiver. The receiver goes around your neck on a cord, which contains an induction loop; set the hearing aid to "T" to pick up the signal. The mic has a range of about 20 yards (more outside), and can be switched between directional and non-directional sensitivity; it also has elecrtonics to reduce ambient noise. There's a socket for a conventional mic on the remote unit, so I can plug in my mandolin or the guitar with the pick-up. I tried it out last night at the FC, and it's quite a help. It's handy in the office, and really good in a meeting.

When I've had a bit more musical experience with it I'll report back. It looks quite promising (but pricy at around £380).


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Vixen
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 02:41 PM

Goodness--a thread that keeps coming back!

I got my hearing aid fixed successfully back in March, and I am now much more comfortable WITH them than WITHOUT them. If I'm going to play music, I wear 'em. If I haven't got 'em for some reason, I don't play/sing.

That Sense-sonic device looks interesting...


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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Mar 04 - 06:18 PM

Although only a few clients and no friends have complained about my increasingly poor understanding of words, I finally decided to get an audiology test and my hearing drops right off from the middle of the normal scale in the upper tones. I've got almost nothing at 8,000hertz. Big surprise! Anywho...the audiologist recommended digital hearing aids. I was surprised at the cost.

I have some questions. Is there any way to fix cochlear nerve damage? Do hearing aids really IMPROVE hearing or will I just hear louder clangs, hisses, cicadas, and whistles? Does hearing ever improve? What is the standard deviation on an audiology test? How much variation can I expect if I take the test two more times?

I am really having trouble getting myself around this little piece of reality. I HAVE quickly learned to watch peole's mouths when they talk which does help alot but I hate the idea that I need hearing aids. I HATE IT!!!!!!!!! And of course words on the DVDs helps alot. At movies I miss almost all the dialogue unless I am way up front....waaaaaaaa!!!!! harpy

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 20 Mar 04 - 08:10 PM

Harpgirl, this is tough news indeed, but its good that you're willing to share it here.

As I've been deaf for most of my life I can't guess how hard it feels for you to begin to lose your hearing now, but I'll try to help with some of your questions.

To the best of my understanding nerve damage is irreparable, although there have been some reports of operations which can reconnect some kinds of nerve loss in special cases.

Hearing aids amplify sound - but the digital aids which are now available are very sophisticated instruments which don't just make noises louder. I had to put up with analogue aids for years which did just that - they helped me a great deal, but the digital experience has been a revelation in spite of the cost involved.

Hearing does vary; with the weather, the acoustic environment, your own mood, earwax levels &c...but once it begins to deteriorate it doesn't get better.

So try out a digital, but don't let anyone press you into buying something you don't feel comfortable with. Any reputable seller will allow you a trial period and offer a good aftercare service.

Good luck. I hope you will let us know how you get on, but whatever you do don't let this wreck your young life.

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Mar 04 - 08:31 PM

oh, my...hard to come to terms with huh? As I said two years ago, they DO help, if adjusted properly....That's why digital ones are expensive, they have delicate little micro-circuits in a small area...they have several different channels of adjustment available, like the controls on a fancy sound system.

If you decide to go digital and vanity is not a big issue, opt for the ones worn over the ear, as it costs MORE to get 'em hidden. It can take several visits to get sound set to suit YOU best, and it WILL take awhile to deal with almost normal hearing again--you simply are overwhelmed at times.

When I got mine, I had a choice of volume control OR directional choice...don't know if that is still the deal, as stuff does change. warned...these little buggers require care! Humidity affects 'em, and they need to go in a special case with dehumidifiers at night...etc..special cleaning tricks for little plastic tubes too..

tedious? Yep..*wry grin*....but they work and can make life a lot easier if they suit you. A good audiologist will have a couple or 3 brands to try, with a temporary ear piece to get a sense of what you need...and...before you commit to anything, do an online price check...especially in that newsgroup I mentioned.. prices can vary wildly!

(also...when you are being fitted and tested...find a way to test the KIND of sounds you need to hear most...if is is voice...fine...or even take the autoharp in and have things set for the best balance for music, if that's an issue. They can only control so many parameters.)

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: Stepper
Date: 20 Mar 04 - 08:42 PM

I have worn hearing aids virtually from the word go, I don't know what normal hearing levels are but I do know how to hear music.

I hear music through my body, I feel the vibrations, the difference in tone,pitch, volume. When I play in a band I can feel when notes are right or wrong, I can feel whether notes harmonise or not. The same is true of singing. Hearing the words to a song is more difficult but lipreading helps.

I am lucky, I have a pair of digital, in the ear danovox aids ( on the NHS) and they are amazing, sounds are so clear and direction is very precise but I still use my instinct to feel the music. Learn to be at one with your body ( sounds cheesy but it is true!!!)

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Subject: RE: Musicians with Hearing Aids
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Mar 04 - 08:59 PM

thank you for the kind words of encouragement and information you all.. I am struggling with this reality....I don't like it. But the thought of hearing better is very compelling...

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