Hearing Loops for Musical Performances

An Interview with Lorraine Gailey of Hearing Link

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Tell us about Richard Einhorn, the keynote speaker.
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Richard Einhorn

The internationally renowned composer Richard Einhorn was a delegate at the second loop conference in Washington DC, so was an obvious keynote speaker for the third conference. As someone who suddenly lost his hearing about three years ago, he understands fully what it is like to “lose the music.”

For some time after his hearing loss, he had no way whatsoever of hearing public performances. Then, almost accidentally, he attended a performance of Wicked in a New York venue where there was an excellent hearing loop system in operation—and he describes weeping with relief and joy that he could once again hear the performance.

He can talk with knowledge and passion about the benefits of good hearing technology, used well, despite a time when he thought music was lost to him forever.

Could you give us some background on what Hearing Link does to help people with hearing loss in the UK?

Acquired hearing loss can seriously undermine a person’s confidence and self-esteem, and can lead to social isolation and even family breakdown. Anyone who appreciates music, either as a listener or a performer, is likely to find their altered music perception distressing.

People’s usual ways of getting support, whether within the family or from professionals, rely mainly on talking and listening; and of course this is the very thing that has become extremely difficult for anyone with hearing loss.

Hearing Link steps in with information and contacts that will lead to a better future for everyone living with hearing loss.

How have you worked with musicians and music lovers in particular?

Hearing aids and hearing implants can help greatly with conversation, but few are designed specifically for musical appreciation. And of course most musical people have very high listening standards.

One of our trustees has recently participated in a research project for a cochlear implant company which is working to improve the way its products respond to music. This involved a weekend of listening to and participating in music making, so that the company could understand better what the listeners wanted.

The 3rd International Hearing Loop Conference will take place in Eastbourne, England, on October 6–7, 2013. Go to hearinglink.org for more information.

Lorraine Gailey’s background is in the fields of psychology and speech and language therapy, and her PhD thesis topic was the psychology of lipreading. She headed up the Clinical Communications Course at the University of Ulster prior to joining the LINK Centre for Deafened People in 1988, where she became CEO in 1991. She oversaw LINK’s merger with Hearing Concern in 2008 to form Hearing Link, the UK’s national organization for people with acquired hearing loss.
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4 Comments

  1. Some modern hearing aids are optimised in very clever ways for clarifying speech, but they are less satisfactory for listening to music, because of those clever ways. For example, the pitch of some notes may be altered. So for musicians and serious listeners, it is worth asking for a ‘music’ program, without special speech processing, to be provided in your digital hearing aid.

    • John, thanks for writing, and what you say is very helpful. I have a music setting on my hearing aid, and I find it helpful in some situations when I’m playing.

  2. Dear Nancy, what are your experiences with musical performances heard through T-Coils? I don’t have really any and we’re wondering whether it could be a benefit to install the loop in a concert hall… what is your opinion? Thank you so much!

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