For every decibel that amateur pianist Joyce Morton has lost in hearing, she has gained double the wisdom about how to keep on making music despite her hearing loss. In this exclusive interview with GRAND PIANO PASSION™, she shares her top five tips about playing an instrument while wearing hearing aids.
1. Accept your hearing loss.
A diagnosis of hearing loss often comes with denial (at first, Joyce was only willing to wear one hearing aid although her audiologist told her she needed them in both ears). But coming to terms with having a hearing loss and wearing hearing aids eventually led to deeper connections with the people around her.
2. Persist in wearing your hearing aids.
With a new pair of hearing aids, the world will initially sound different—perhaps even unpleasant. Joyce’s advice is to view the first few months as a necessary trial period to “break in” your hearing aids and get accustomed to wearing them.
3. Create a custom setting on your hearing aids for playing music.
Even if your hearing aids come with a music setting, Joyce explains that the setting is geared towards listening to music, not playing an instrument. Work with your audiologist to tweak the setting based on your practice and performance needs—a solution may be to simply lower the amount of amplification, or volume.
4. Recognize that your instrument may sound different when you’re wearing hearing aids.
When you first go back to making music while wearing your hearing aids, you can expect your instrument to sound different to you; the quality and tone of the notes, not just their volume, may be affected. In fact, Joyce’s assessment of her own Steinway L piano changed completely after she began practicing while wearing hearing aids.
5. Celebrate the musicality that your hearing aids make possible.
Persist through a trial period with your instrument as well as in everyday life and conversation. If you have any doubts that you can continue to enjoy playing music and playing it well, observe Joyce as she performs Liszt’s Un Sospiro.