General Category > Hearing Issues

Pitch Changes and Musicians

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Muffin:
This post strikes at my heart.  I play the guitar and sing.  Recently, I have noticed harmony in a choir is not the same.  I do not hear all the nuances that I used to.  Even the water draining out of the tub sounds different on the AN side.  If I plug my good ear, I hear shhhhhhh. If I plug the AN side I can hear shhh and glug, glug, glug in between.   We play at nursing homes and they are happy for whatever we can share, so I still have a purpose, but it is different.  I hope if it is time for me to go, the group will tell me.  That is my fear. Am I making it difficult?  My friend plunked out some keys on a piano while I stood several feet back with eyes closed.  I plugged one side and then the other.  It was kind of the same, but when she played a chord, wow!  My AN side heard a whole different pitch!  We forge ahead, right?  My hearing test did not come out good today.  Another thing to get used to.  I really would like to try to save what is left and feel very torn now on what to do.  As long as there wasn’t much of a change, I was a lot more upbeat, but now feel like I need to rethink....

reesekathy48:
Wow its good to know i am not alone. I am a profeussional musician and i had a labrynthectomy done and had cochlear implant put in my left ear a year ago this June. Its has been encouraging and discouraging. I am hearing pitches that i have not been able to hear in a reallt long time but the sound is far from perfect. I play piano and guitar and i swear there are times when i hear a note and it morphes. It sound it moves in and out of pitch on me. I was in the studio the other day playing a very expensive and totally in tune digital piano and the notes sounded like they were out of pitch. And after a few minutes it was fine.  The other problem i notice is that Whenever i am in noisy environments i feel really out of it. Its almost like feeling stoned constantly. Has anyone else had that?

ewhitese:
Hi, I'm responding because I too am single sided partial hearing, I have 10% hearing left in my right ear.  I am not a musician other than a high school band geek from long ago.  I am 5 years with hearing loss and have grown accustom to it.  I remember when I was new with my hearing loss noticing that music had changed.  Songs that I grew up with listening on the radio had changed, missing notes missing harmony and even missing words. Through hearing tests I discovered that I was missing specific octaves, and specific vocal sounds specific letter sounds in speech and combinations that are no longer discernible one from the other. I tried compensating with a hearing aide, that made the sounds I could detect overwhelming but did not clarify speech to me, so I muddle through.  I tell people constantly I have a hearing problem and ask them to repeat, I some how picked up lip reading, seemed to come naturally.  I anticipate conversation and try to place myself so my good ear is directed toward the speaker.

Music for awhile was disappointing and changed.  I did not enjoy listening to the radio because songs I knew well were changed.  I found stereo head phones interesting, I have a wireless set for watching tv because I need the volume higher than others can stand.  If I reverse them on my head the sound track of a movie is completely different.  I notice when voice recordings are on separate sides I will miss part of the conversation.  Music will have missing instruments that I know should be in there etc.  I don't try to learn new songs I here on the radio anymore because I find modern music too hard to understand and I probably am to old to relate to the subject matter anyway.

Now 5 years after hearing loss I am fairly accustom to it, my children and grandkids love having dinner conversation with me because I hear parts of a conversation and make up the rest myself and my responses or interactions have nothing to do with the conversation everyone else is having making for some very hilarious results.  They will all stop look at each other and bust out in a hearty roar of laughter which suits me fine.  Once the explanation is made for me I join in, it helps to remind us all that our communications  need to be clear for my benefit. I spend one day a week with my youngest grandson preschooler, whom I can't understand from the back seat of the car no matter how loud he tries to talk I can't make out the conversation.  He just gives a sigh and says never mind.  He has a bit of a speech impediment and I think I am helping him work on his annotation because he knows I can't understand him.  I think he appreciates the fact that he is not the only one with an issue.

So 5 years after I enjoy the radio oldies channel, I don't remember what the music sounded like before hearing loss so I don't notice what is missing or my brain has compensated in some way that I am filling in the blanks myself. I can tell when someone is off key or the harmony is wrong, probably not as well as I once did but I can notice those things. I know I pay more attention when listening is important now than I did, I can't say what specifically my brain is doing to make new understanding but it is there.  If I had to make a list of directions on how I compensate I couldn't but I know my brain has made a way.  Imperfect as it may be I am comfortable with my new hearing.

Don't give up your music, or any other interests that define you, keep playing don't be afraid to ask those around you to help accommodate for your hearing loss you will be amazed how much they want to help. And don't be upset when they forget you have an issue, that's just a sign of how well you are compensating and they can't tell you have an issue.  Experiment with new ways to make those sounds audible to you, routing sounds from your damaged side to the hearing side through hearing technology.  I think your brain will adjust to its new normal and you to will come to place that you find you no longer miss what you don't have and find a way to make what you have work better for you.  It's not going to be easy and will take trial and error over an extended amount of time but I am confident that you will adjust and still find joy in what you do.  Discouragement is always looking for a home in us and we in the AN community know it well.  But persistence and inner strength are with in us as well.  When you are deep in discouragement, struggling with a task, take a break do something different, rest and come back to it again later.  Time is not our enemy, it is what will give us back our inner peace.

All things work together for our good and we will find the good in all things if we are looking for it.  God be with you and may peace be yours.



notaclone13:
Great advice ewhitese.  To Muffin and Kathy, I am now experiencing muffled, altered hearing in my AN ear and can imagine how frustrating this must be for a musician.  But please do not give up your music.  You are playing the right notes and they sound the same to others, just not to you.  Bear in mind that Beethoven suffered from compromised hearing since his early 30s and was totally deaf by the time he was 44 (http://www.classicfm.com/composers/beethoven/guides/deaf-hearing-loss-composing/). After going completely deaf he composed his last five piano sonatas, five string quartets and the Ninth Symphony with chorale.  If Beethoven had thrown in the towel cause hecould no longer hear, we wouldn't have Ode to Joy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lNaajK3Scctps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lNaajK3Scc). Keep on doing what gives joy to you and others. So what if it isn't perfect.  You are not alone (    https://blog.beltone.com/2015/02/11/10-musicians-you-probably-didnt-know-are-hearing-impaired/). I recently heard about Eric Clapton's hearing problem, but had no idea about some of others in this category.           

ewhitese:
Wow Thank you notaclone13 for sharing Ode to Joy. How powerful that video was for me, brought me to tears of joy.  What a wonderful performance and a testimony to how a single instrument is effected by all those around it.  In our collective humanity we are so much more than the isolated being we presume to be.  Perfection is over rated and our unified imperfection becomes perfect only in the presents of all us.

Don't give up your music Muffin embrace the joy of it all and live in the moment.  Those whom you visit in the nursing home don't care that you are not the same as you once were, they embrace the joy that music brings them and live in that moment filled with memories and thoughts that none of will know. But look into their eyes and you will see the joy that music brings them.

My mother lived the last 5 years of her life with out speech, totally immobilized with only the ability to chew and swallow.  Alzheimer's disease finally claimed her life after a 10 year struggle.  But when the music played or guests came to perform I watched her eyes light up and could see the joy in her sole as she listened to the music. She would start by widening her eyes and she would look all around her trying to find where it was coming from, then her brow would relax and her eyelids get heavy and an ever so subtle expression of joy would come over her face. I knew she was enjoying herself, even though she couldn't show us or tell us.

I thank you for your time and your talents knowing that my mother found joy in that long dark time of her life brought to her by people such as yourself.  God Bless you and know that others appreciate what you have to offer. 

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