Music and Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can affect anyone and has a profound effect on our ability to communicate with the people around us. Many modern hearing aids are extremely effective and if fitted well by an experienced audiologist, can make a real difference. As hearing technology has improved over the years, people with hearing loss are doing things that were previously thought impossible.
Hearing loss among musicians is a sensitive subject and is more common than you might think, but, just like anyone else, it is possible for people with hearing loss to enjoy a successful musical career.
Beethoven was one such musician to completely defy the odds and produce music that is still held in the highest esteem several centuries later.
However, although modern hearing aids are very effective, most modern digital hearing systems are designed to optimise the speech signal in a range of environments and are not necessarily appropriate for listening to or playing music.
At Musicians’ Hearing Services, we understand that the individual needs of a musician must be considered at all times. The guitarist in a rock band may have completely different requirements to the oboe player in an orchestra and it is crucial that these individual requirements are considered when deciding which technology is most appropriate and programming settings and features.
We have fitted hearing aids to musicians from all genres and are experienced in programming technology to suit a range of needs. In fact, we are recommended by the Musicians Union and the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine as an audiology practice with a specific interest in the needs of musicians.
I would firstly like to say how much I appreciate all of the effort that you put in to help me at Musicians’ Hearing Services.I played my guitars the second I got back, and have since listened to recorded music. I am delighted to report that there is a significant improvement. This is most noticeable in the lower frequencies which you boosted significantly. I can now clearly hear the full range of the double bass in my recordings of Jazz trios and quartets, and in orchestral pieces as well as the lower strings on my guitar with greater clarity.I found it really useful that I could sit with you and have some control over how the hearing aids would sound – the same as if I were sat with an engineer at a mixing desk- adjusting EQ, compression, etc. From a musical point of view what I need is as much access to the full tonal spectrum as possible.I recently listened to a Radio4 programme featuring Michael Berkley who suffered hearing loss after a viral infection and also had to rely on hearing aids. He made a point that really rang true for me. He said ‘we listen with the mind’. Accessing a fuller range of frequencies enables me to focus on the elements in the music that I choose, it gives me control in how I direct my attention.I hope these comments might be useful to you in helping other musicians.Paul Costello – guitarist