Hearing Loss


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    Alan Brinton

    Roll Over, Beethoven.

    This may strike some as an odd “melodica” topic, but for me it is especially relevant to playing my melodicas. I suffered serious high frequency hearing loss early in my adult life. I have been aware that if affected my music listening experience and preferences, including sound processing preferences. About two weeks ago, I was provided with relatively high end Phonak hearing aids by the Veterans Administration, since my hearing loss is service related. These hearing aids are programmed to my hearing loss, amplifying just the relevant high frequencies by way of an equalizing process. I was told that it’s important to wear the hearing aids for at least 14 hours per day for at least a few months until my brain relearns how to process the high frequencies. Meanwhile, my own voice, most of the music I listen to, and in particular my melodica playing sounds harsh, metallic, unnatural, unpleasant.

    Phonak makes use of the latest technology, which has been developed in part to address this kind of issue. The sound is converted from analog to digital. It’s possible to have the aids specifically programmed for music as opposed to speech, but this does not seem to be a viable option. I listen to music off and on throughout the day, and to some extent this is also true with my melodica playing. Another option is to remove the hearing aids while listening to or playing music, though that’s problematic for the same reasons.

    So it looks like the best bet is to tough it out, to keep listening and playing with the hearing aids in, hoping that my brain eventually catches up. But it is discouraging, especially since the likeliest strategy is to subject myself to as much offending sound as possible and to keep playing. There might be some incidental benefits, for example from efforts to coax minimally offensive sounds from my melodicas. (Some sound worse than others: any Hohner Piano 26, for example, sounds better to me than my Suzuki M-37C.)

    I’m interested to hear comments from anyone else who has wrestled with this kind of problem.

    Paul Durham

    I have an acqaintance who recently had the cochlear implant for nearly total hearing loss. He received new high tech hearing aids and mentioned to me about the relearning of the brain. So sorry you can’t enjoy the M37C while you adjust. I agree with your assessment that you must endure alot of unpleasant sounds so your brain can adjust. Best wishes. And speaking of the Piano 26 I’ve been standing by my resolve to stop buying and the Piano 26 on ebay didn’t sell.


    I don’t remember if writing about this; but I was convinced by my own experience that a long playing for many years on melodica without a mouthpiece and tube in high register struck my right ear.

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