Top 5 on Music and Hearing

Best News Articles in September 2013 for Musicians with Hearing Loss

Nick_Coleman_Lost_and_Sound
Nick Coleman, author of The Train in the Night. A still from the documentary film Lost and Sound.
Listening to music was critic Nick Coleman’s life and livelihood, until he was met with a sudden onslaught of hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis that made music sound flat and unbearable. Here we highlight this and other recent stories for musicians with hearing loss.

Documenting Musical Hallucinations

Last month we mentioned musical ear syndrome, a condition that can accompany hearing loss. Since then we came across a Tumblr called Deaf Dream Tracks, in which the author states: “Illness destroyed my hearing in 2000. I wake in the mornings and random tunes play in my mind, as echoes from dreams and the past. Some melodies are old favourites. Others resurface, forgotten for decades.” What follows is a series of videos of the classical works that have been on this blogger’s mind; a highlight is one of Stephen Malinowski’s animations, a particularly accessible way to remember the music in detail.

Horn Players and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

In orchestras, horn players are some of the most at-risk members for acquiring noise-induced hearing loss. “The levels are so high that many countries’ occupational health regulations would limit exposure like that to a half-hour a day,” reports NPR. A recent Australian study of 142 French horn players found that almost half of the musicians noticed some changes in their hearing, but fewer than 20 percent of them used earplugs or other forms of hearing protection.

Rethinking the Term “Hearing Impaired”

Mark Levin, a deaf musician who has worked with rapper Sean Forbes, wants to erase the term “hearing impaired” from our vocabulary. In his post for The Limping Chicken, Levin gets us to rethink the idea of impairment. “Those of us with hearing loss will adapt, it is the world around that does not adapt,” he writes. “If you are able to communicate and be a 100% functional member of society, but the person who is trying to talk to you can’t figure out how to alert you that you may be standing in their way, they are the one who is limited with what they are trying to achieve, and they are the ones who need a tool to aid them in their task.”

Sudden Hearing Loss for a Music Critic

“Scraping chair legs or crumpled paper bags, as amplified through his distorted ear canals, became instruments of torture. Music, his lifelong obsession, had turned into a painful, one-dimensional blast.” So goes a description on The Millions of UK music journalist Nick Coleman’s memoir, The Train in the Night, which has just been released in the U.S. Coleman, who we covered in a previous Top 5 on Music and Hearing post, experienced sudden hearing loss and slowly retrained his brain to listen to music again.

Singing in Tune with Cochlear Implants

Gaynor Young was a rising South African stage actress—until a terrible accident during a 1989 performance left her brain-damaged, completely deaf, and with only 40 percent of her eyesight. In her candid blog, ’ear ’ear!, Young recounts her adventures in adjusting to life since that accident. Having recently received a second cochlear implant, she blogged about her experiences belting out hymns in church despite her lack of ability to sing in tune anymore. But one Sunday in September, “an amazing thing occurred”—she suddenly sang in tune for the first time in decades.

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