I am the founding editor of Grand Piano Passion™. I am an amateur concert pianist who debuted at Carnegie Hall, even though I have lived with a genetic, degenerative hearing loss all of my life. I founded Grand Piano Passion™ to share insights from my journey with adults who love to play the piano, musicians with hearing loss, and anyone claiming their passion.
Grand Piano Passion™ will help you to Play. Hear. Aspire.
I debuted at Carnegie Hall with Chopin’s “Raindrop” Prelude and beguiling Nocturne in E-flat Major. I had returned to the piano only seven years before, after a hiatus of over two decades. I was the only performer wearing hearing aids.
During my 15 minutes on stage, I was intent on nothing else save the physical bulk of the piano and the music’s resonant sounds. I played the final notes with reluctance. My performance was one of the best days of my life.
I was diagnosed with hearing loss during my childhood, at age six. At first, Mom supported my love for the piano, telling me that with my beautiful touch, no one would know that I had a hearing loss. Piano music filled me so completely that whenever I passed the piano in our living room, I craved its sounds.
A few months before I turned 16, I performed Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor, with its thunderous chords and chaotic whirlwind of triplets, at my teacher’s recital. Last on the program, I felt shyly proud when I received a standing ovation, although I had experienced an equal joy in the months before, during the hours of practice time.
Yet the Rachmaninoff recital marked the end of my lessons. Dad’s alcoholism, my parents’ disintegrating marriage, and the belief that with my hearing loss, I would “never be a concert pianist,” gathered force, ultimately coercing me to quit the instrument I loved.
The belief that, with my hearing loss, I would “never be a concert pianist,” gathered force, coercing me to quit the instrument I loved.
For the next twenty-five years, I longed to play. But feelings locked inside of me—that I would never progress on the piano with my hearing loss, that I was too old to study the piano—barred me. I attended Stanford University, earned my masters at Harvard Business School, married, gave birth to two beloved children, and worked as a marketing director.
In my early 40s, I finally enrolled in adult piano lessons, admitting to my teacher that I wear hearing aids — yet he was undeterred. At his student recital, I came out in public, explaining to the audience I needed to switch my hearing aids to the music setting before playing. I enrolled in a master class on performance, which culminated in the performance at Carnegie Hall.
Pursuing my passion for the piano was a journey of self-discovery. With the help of therapy, Al-Anon, and the bliss I felt practicing the piano, I came to terms with my childhood experiences and the hearing loss stigma that had mildewed within.
Claiming my passion eventually led to self-integration. I decided to dedicate my professional life to hearing loss. I founded Auditory Insight, a boutique strategy consultancy focused on hearing healthcare.
I also founded Grand Piano Passion™. If you love music yet fear that your age or hearing diability constrains you from playing an instrument, this site is for you.
I came to terms with my childhood experiences and the hearing loss stigma that had mildewed within.
Grand Piano Passion™ Offers an Online Oasis for Adults Who Want to Play the Piano…
…and for All Musicians with Hearing Loss…
…and for Anyone Claiming a Passion.
What I Believe
I believe that everyone has a passion — a pastime or occupation for which we feel an intense desire.
I believe that we have the right to pursue our passions, even when we possess a disability or constraint like hearing loss that according to conventional wisdom seems to limit that pursuit.
I believe that all of us in the hearing loss community must do everything in our power to address the social stigma against hearing loss.
I believe that when we come to terms with our constraints and disabilities, especially those that society stigmatizes, that we gain power and a means for forging our identity.
Reflections on a Grand Passion
I am at East Coast Piano, a boxy, windowless warehouse store on New Jersey’s Route 46, because my husband, David, has insisted.
For my performance at Carnegie Hall, I wanted to infuse my music with the same emotion I experienced at home.
On New Year’s Eve in 1986, a crowd wearing pointed party hats pressed against the velvet ropes outside a Manhattan club.
An adult piano student considers her music ugly, a holdover from her childhood. Then when looking to buy an antique Steinway, she instead leaves with hope.