Top 5 on Music and Hearing

Best News Articles in July 2013 for Musicians with Hearing Loss

Tap_dancers
“Tappity tap” by Abulic Monkey via Creative Commons.
A souped-up piano bench comes complete with subwoofers, while a flutist rejects digital hearing aids. This month’s news roundup highlights various ways of experiencing music through the lens of hearing loss or deafness.

Tech Features for Pianists with Hearing Loss

Subwoofers on the piano bench make the bench an integral part of the instrument and let musicians feel what they’re playing. That’s just one of the innovative features of Warren Shadd‘s latest piano creation, which has caught the attention of musicians with hearing loss. Shadd, a Washington DC native and the son of a jazz musician, recounts in this MyFoxDC video, “There was one lady who came over. She’s been playing for 36 years, and she has never heard the last 10 notes in the treble on a piano, ever. And she started yelling, ‘I can hear it! I can hear it!’”

A Flutist with Hearing Loss Prefers Analogue to Digital

Technology is not always the answer: Ruth Montgomery, a flutist with profound hearing loss, has rejected digital hearing aids in favor of her analogue set. In her blog post (which is from June, but we just read it), she explains that while playing flute with the digital aids, “Sounds in the high register were cut off; if I played very quickly the digital hearing aid would still try to process sound memory and clash by overlapping each other. The flute stopped showing its tone colours—it was all in one platform, very dull.”

Counseling Musicians with Hearing Loss

When you’re a musician, a trip to the audiologist can turn into a career counseling session. Marshall Chasin, an audiologist who works with a lot of musicians with hearing loss, says that he’ll often get 30 to 40 minutes into an appointment before starting the actual hearing assessment, because there’s so much to discuss regarding musicians’ career choices. Hearing loss prevention may be the primary concern of an audiologist, but there’s more to it than that. “In my 30 years working with musicians, I have never told someone to stop playing their music,” Chasin writes on his blog Hear the Music.

A Smartphone App for Deaf Music Fans

With “Music Is for Everyone” as its theme, the Cartagena International Music Festival didn’t forget its fans with hearing loss. As part of a promotion for the festival, a South American ad agency created Vibetunes, a smartphone app designed for deaf and hard of hearing music listeners. “The phone will vibrate along with a song’s frequencies to allow the user to experience the beats and intricacies of each song,” reports Deaf News Today. The app seems to work for various genres of music; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is the example shown in the promotional video.

Musicality in Dance Lessons for the Deaf

What are dance teachers to do when their first deaf student arrives for class? Sheri Leblanc of Reflections in Verse and Prose interviewed dance instructors who work with hard of hearing and deaf students and have plenty of useful communication tips to offer. Ways of making sure all students can infuse musicality into their dancing include clapping the rhythms, using tap shoes, pairing deaf students with hearing students, and relying on bass beats. Ballet teacher Igal Perry says, “I figured out in working with deaf people that, like hearing people, there are those who are musical.”

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