Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

I have been blind since birth, and part of my condition also means that I will gradually lose my hearing. I currently have very mild hearing loss, so can still hear fairly well with both ears but I know that that will probably change. Listening to music, especially trad music, has always been one of my greatest hobbies.
I wanted to post this in order to see if any other posters are either deaf/hard of hearing or know someone who is. Do you/the person you know still get to enjoy music a bit, perhaps by feeling the vibrations? I’d really appreciate some reassurance. You can reply to this thread or send me a private message on here. Thank you so much.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Have you heared of Evelyn Glennie? She is nearly deaf (20% hearing) and a professional percussionist. She studied piano and percussion at Royal Academy of Music when she already was deaf. She is also playing the Highland Bagpipes.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Evelyn Glennie is an inspiration to those who love music but struggle with hearing loss. Her autobiography is actually called "Good Vibrations", and she usually plays barefoot so rhat she can pick up vibrations through the floor.
I lost the hearing in one ear when I was only about 7, and coped for many years with only one functioning ear. Now, many years on, I am also losing the hearing in my "good" ear, and wear 2 hearing aids: aids have progressed enormously over the years, with the modern digital ones being far superior to the old analogue ones, and can be tuned to enhance those frequencies that your natural hearing is missing. The aid in my "bad" ear does not bring back hearing in that ear, but channels sound from that ear to the better one, the so-called CROS system. Aids can also have specific settings made to use while playing, so it is worth telling the audiologist you are a musician and what you play: e.g.fiddle is played very close to the ear, so you will benefit from a different setting than you use for everyday ambient sound. There is a tiny switch on the aid to change between settings.
However my type of hearing loss does not just involve loss of volume, but comes with resounding tinnitus which can overpower anything else I’m trying to listen to, and severely distort both speech and musical pitch: I hear people speaking, but it sounds like a foreign language; if they then shout at me, it just distorts further and brings on even worse tinnitus. Hyperacusis too, where ordinary sounds become really unpleasant (e.g. someone scraping the last mouthful off their plate!) The aspect that upsets me most is the distortion of pitch which makes music sound out of tune: it fluctuates a lot but on bad days it just isn’t worth listening to music, and I can’t then trust myself to sing in tune, having had close to perfect pitch before. I do try to keep playing, my 2 main instruments being piano and button accordion: being of fixed pitch, it’s just a matter of hitting the right keys or buttons, even if it sounds odd to me.
As for enjoying music by the vibrations, when my hearing is on a really bad day, I recognise tunes by their rhythm rather than the notes being played.
Sorry to paint a bit of a gloomy picture, but not everyone who is losing hearing will have this same spectrum of symptoms as mine, and do seek help earlier rather than later.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

I’ve got fairly typical age related hearing loss nowhere near as bad as Trish’s above.
Even so a lot of stuff is inaccessible without hearing aids, including sessions - the background noise makes them pointless for me. Had to get another banjo (Deering Goodtime - lovely) as the cheapo far eastern one was just too harsh for my sensitive ears.
The good news is I like listening to myself playing - even if nobody else does!
I’m told that expensive hearing aid options could be better than my NHS free ones but I’m not convinced and anyway I couldn’t afford them

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Thank you all for the responses. I’ll check out Evelyn Glennie. Trish and Jacob, I’m very sorry for your difficulties with hearing. We just have to keep pushing forward.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

TW, here I am again. I also have progressive hearing loss because of my condition. It’s moderate to severe now and I use pretty powerful hearing aids. Hopefully I won’t have to go the CI route, but we’ll see, I guess.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

And we meet again, Daniel! What is your condition if you don’t mind me asking? Mine is Norrie’s disease.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

@TW I think I must have broken my jawbone it hit the floor so hard. I am also a Norrie patient. I told you I never went to NFB Conventions, but I usually do go to Norrie Disease Association (NDA) conferences every 3 years in Boston.

Apologies to the rest of you for getting off-topic.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Wow!! That’s crazy, because I thought it was fairly rare. I should check out these conventions. I’ve heard of many people who lose their hearing at different ages.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

I have a friend who took up music after retirement. He has serious hearing loss (don’t know his condition, other than old age), and struggles with a lot of aspects of listening to and playing music. But he loves it so much. He did get new hearing aids recently, and I think it has helped quite a bit. He worked with the audiologist specifically for being able to play music, and he took his instrument in to his audiology appointments.

I am a bit worried about my own hearing. I’m in my mid 50s, but I was involved in music promotion for many years, and was around a LOT of loud rock concerts. On top of that, I was a nightclub DJ for 20 years back in my younger days, too. So I did a ton of damage to my hearing. I have had problems with hyperacusis and tinnitus, and I have a fair sized band of hearing degradation in the midrange. Thankfully, it hasn’t affected my ability to play music much, so far. But I do have problems in loud environments, and sessions sometimes push the limits of my tolerance for noise. If I’m in a noisy restaurant, I can’t differentiate the conversation with my mates from the background noise. And I can’t pick out quiet background music from the noise either. The main issue I have currently in sessions is being able to pick out someone’s voice in the middle of the music. So if someone calls out a tune name, for instance, there’s only about a 30% chance that I heard it well enough to know what they said, unless I was also reading their lips. So I try to look at the person who started the set when it gets close to time to change tunes (assuming they didn’t call the set in advance).

But I do try to pamper my hearing a bit more these days to try to help stave off the inevitable continued degradation.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Norrie is very rare. That’s why I’m shocked every time I meet another Norrie patient by chance. It’s happened to me before. Norrie is very different from person to person. I know some who’ve experienced virtually no hearing loss and others who wear CIs now in their 20s.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Thank you all for being so open about your stories. I appreciate it.

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

@TW
I obviously don’t get on here often enough.
My hearing levels are currently approx, Left = 60% and Right = 15%. Aids in both now.
My hearing loss is a congenital condition, first noticed as a teenager and just got progressively worse. I’ve been wearing earmuffs in noisy conditions since I was about 12. Hyperacusis and Tinnitus have also plagued me since then. In younger years my really biggest problem was that my father did not understand, nor was even interested, and being farmers I was made to do inappropriate work (even for my age - cheap labour) for which I paid a heavy penalty. And ever since then this condition has been the bane of my life.
Hyperacusis. I’ve never previously heard anyone else mention it. I often have to explain to people that although I have substantial hearing loss, I have hyperacusis and as such I’m also extremely sensitive to any loud or sustained noise. Car ‘road noise’ completely beats me, so I travel very little. I’m a welder by trade and I can’t even *start up* an angle grinder without earmuffs, let alone work it. If anyone starts banging with a hammer without warning me, they get a smack behind the ear. Flying is absolutely out of the question.
Absolutely everyone - in my extended families, people that I work with, and even all my clients, knows that I command consideration when it comes to any level of noise that would affect me.
Tinnitus. I have two loud jet engines - one either side of my head. It used to stress me to the point of madness, but as I was told about 20 years ago (and I could not understand at the time), ‘habituation’ has finally settled in.
Hearing problems is the reason I gave up ‘professional’ music/entertainment in the late 90’s and since then I’ve only done weekly ‘jazz’ church, small functions and as much private playing as possible.
Another thing is, singing. I used to sing (self accompanied) all night long, but with the worsening hearing loss in my right ear, I found it difficult to hold pitch. I later found out that it is the nerve that I hear myself with, is dependent on the right ear (proximity), and being quite deaf in that side meant singing would be affected.

Until 18 months ago.
I acquired a little piano accordion and haven’t looked back. Of course, modern technology in hearing aids also helps a lot. Prior to my current pair, I could not wear them while playing any music instrument. Now I can use them always.
But, I do have to concur Reverend. Noisy gatherings are impossible. And as for ‘pampering’ your hearing, I have a funny little feeling that it is too late. All the information that I have acquired over the last 50 years or so leads me to believe that the damage (whatever it is) has already been done.

TW. It really beats me how blind people get so much done. Occasionally, I muck around with my eyes closed, just to see what I can get up to and it is such a challenge to even find my around the house. But, I do know that I can play almost any music that I know by memory, with my eyes closed. In fact it has never been unusual to see me playing with my eyes closed. I do know that the great majority of us with tip-top vision take it for granted.

Trish. I believe I understand where you’re at, not a significantly different situation to mine.
I would suggest that I might read nearly every post that you submit, and I enjoy you because you’re so sensible.

And what a great thread! No brawling, or arguing or making stupid statements. Just real life stuff.

G’night!!

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Hi Peter, thank you so much for your post, and for being so honest here. I’m sorry your father wasn’t very understanding of your condition, but I admire the fact that you don’t allow life to hold you back!

Re: Deaf/hard of hearing trad music lovers

Thanks, Peter, for your kind words. And good luck with your accordion!