A common misconception for people with hearing loss is that we can’t hear music.
Being a deaf teenager – I love my music! In fact, most of my deaf friends do too. Music has this element to it that allows us to connect. Just like anyone else, we can relate to the lyrics and the mood of different songs. Soothing tunes sound nice in our ears after a busy day full of background commotion, while other songs really have energy injected to them, which give us a confidence boost. I think music defines our personality and emotions – and for those who struggle to communicate due to their hearing loss, music is a great way to for them to express themselves.
If you’re thinking, ‘How can she hear the music?’ Well… there’s a few possibilities.
I have direct input leads that I plug into the bottom of my Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. (It’s basically the cord of your iPhone headphones without the earbuds. Instead, the sound is streamed directly to my hearing aids.) Or, if there’s no one around I won’t use the input leads and I’ll just turn my music on high volume out loud! Either way, it lets me rock away to my favorite tunes!
Other people have different devices or streaming accessories, such as the Phonak Roger Pen or ComPilot. The suitability of these products depends on the level of your hearing loss and what hearing aid model you have.
To be fair, I am very behind with the top music hits, but I will always be. Due to my profound hearing loss, I like to read the lyrics while listening to a song and then if I like it, I learn it over and over again until I know it by heart. Personally, this is the only way I can come to like a song. It’s sometimes annoying when my friends talk about the latest catchy tune and I won’t be able to follow, as it’s likely that I haven’t listened to it.
Because my song knowledge is quite limited, I’ve got a confession to make… my absolute favourite album is ‘High School Musical!’ As I grew up watching it, I learnt all the songs quickly. If I’ve had enough of listening to the ‘latest’ chart music, I resort back to my playlists because I like something that I can awfully sing along to, without having to worry about finding the lyrics.
Personally, I have pretty specific taste in music, because if the background music is too loud over the singer’s voice, I can’t make sense of when the words are being sung and I can’t follow it. For example, with Taylor Swift, I can’t hear her songs because they’re too high pitched with lots of background noise, so I prefer someone like Adele with her low toned voice. I’ve also noticed that in rap songs and heavy metal all I can hear is a mumble of words or someone screaming in my ear! For me, it’s pointless listening to them. My boyfriend, on the other hand, like them! I guess we all have our preferences.
Listening to live music is a different story. I usually choose not to go out clubbing or to concerts purely because when the music is playing; 1. The acoustics make it too loud to hear the actual song, and 2. I never know half of the songs that are being played. I have to ask my friend every time a new song comes on, “what is it, who’s it by?” … I’m sure they get fed up.
As a solution, I’ve found this amazing app, it’s called ‘Soundhound Music Search’ – similar to Shazam. Basically every time a song comes on, you click on the ‘listen’ button and it works out what song is playing! If it’s very clever, and sometimes the lyrics come up in time with it. I’m still more of a ‘let’s go out for quiet drinks’ person, but I know that I have this app just in case!
So, to answer, “can a deaf person listen to music?” The answer is, yes! Deaf people can listen to music, play it and can even sing … so don’t judge us because we can’t ‘hear’!
Ellen Parfitt, is an 19-year-old typical, but not ordinary, teenager. She was born profoundly deaf, but it hasn’t prevented her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as finishing her education, scoring an marketing apprenticeship, and working as a lifeguard, Avon Representative and Girlguide Leader. She is passionate about deaf awareness and campaigning. In her free time, she runs her jewelry and gifts business with her mum.