If you’re a musician, the probability that you’ll develop hearing loss is staggering.
Approximately 30-40% of pop/rock musicians and 50-60% of classical musicians suffer from some degree of hearing loss, according to the Director of Auditory Research Musicians’ Clinics of Canada. Even more suffer from tinnitus.
Once a musician develops hearing loss, many simply stop playing. Suddenly, they’re faced with a unique set of challenges that go beyond simply understanding and being able to interpret musical sounds. Negotiating the audio spectrum of music, adjustments of hearing aids or cochlear implants, and coordinating and harmonizing talent, skill and muscle memory are just a few of these challenges. Picking up where they left off before their hearing loss – or in some cases starting from scratch with a lifelong hearing loss – is daunting.
However, as a professional musician who developed bilateral hearing loss myself, I can tell you that many of us do and will do whatever it takes to continue their musical passions – for music is a soul pursuit not just a technical one.
As a professional musician who developed bilateral hearing loss myself, I can tell you that many of us do and will do whatever it takes to continue their musical passions – for music is a soul pursuit not just a technical one.
A colleague of mine who understands this well is Wendy Cheng, a violist with bilateral hearing loss since the age of 9 and the founder of the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss. AAMHL’s diverse membership includes musicians all along the hearing spectrum and for whom hearing loss is “significant enough to impact how they play or no longer play their instruments and/or perform.”
I spoke with Wendy about her life and work.