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Can a Violin player wear a hearing aid(s) while performing?

Health: I am in need of help in selecting an appropriate practical hearing aid for use while performing; please send me an email at jbhilltop@charter.net Jim Wilson

From James a. wilson
Posted January 30, 2011 at 01:12 AM

I am in need of guidance about the best hearing aid(s) for Violin performers.

If you would like to contact me directly my email address is jbhilltop@charter.net

From Ray Randall
Posted on January 30, 2011 at 07:29 AM

Play violin for a living or fly airplanes for a living. I flipped a coin, flying won. Flying props and jets for 45 years killed my ears. I have two hearing aids and have no problems whatsoever. I have volume controls which really help when it gets noisy. Make sure the attenuation thing that shuts loud noises down is turned off or really barely on in the music mode otherwise when you practice the hearing aid shuts down.       

 

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on January 30, 2011 at 11:56 AM

When I joined the chamber orchestra about 30 years ago the principal violist, an elderly gentleman who was also chairman of the orchestra, was very deaf and wore an old-fashioned hearing aid on his jacket. It was his custom, when the conductor was addressing the orchestra during rehearsal, to switch off his hearing aid and to sit there with a beatific expression on his face, and then he'd turn the device back on when the conductor raised his baton again.

I'm sure some retired orchestral musicians here will understand ;-)

From Peter Charles
Posted on January 30, 2011 at 12:03 PM

There is aways the hope of new career prospects for players that don't want to use a hearing aid, they can become conductors ...

From John Pierce
Posted on January 30, 2011 at 02:42 PM

Can a violin player wear a hearing aid while performing?

Absolutely!  I always do, even when practicing.  It helps a lot.  I have digital ones with a "speech in noise" setting that's handy for rehearsals.

Depending on your relative placement in an orchestra, you might want to turn off one of them, if there's a flute angled directly at your head.  DAMHIKT.

Be sure to keep track of when your batteries run out.  It's no fun to change in the middle of a concert, but you can do it, if you need to.

From Janis Cortese
Posted on January 30, 2011 at 06:19 PM

Worth mentioning that musicians with good hearing can also wear ear protection, and should.  There are good musicians' earplugs around (Etymotic makes nice ones; I have a set of their more ordinary plugs) that will drop you by any number of decibels flat across the spectrum so there's no sound distortion.  You only get everything uniformly lowered, but the frequencies and relative volume of the harmonics is preserved.  Worth it, definitely.  I wear them sometimes when I practice without the mute.  It seems to cut the high frequency stuff and oddly enough makes it easier to hear.

From John Cadd
Posted on January 30, 2011 at 09:21 PM

With two digital aids the only thing I worry about is younger people who do enormous careless damage to their own hearing without realising .It`s the transition to using aids is the awkward bit. Not a long process though. The biggest difference is the sound of your own voice.Music etc is fine. I use the external type.The inside ( hidden )ones pick up all the bone vibrations as you speak. Some headphones use contacts to vibrate the bones in your head. That`s a different experience in itself. They are called Bonephones.  Violinists enjoy that kind of sensuous pleasure through the collar bone.

From Andrew Victor
Posted on January 30, 2011 at 09:33 PM

Yes - a violinist can wear a hearing aid!

I've been supplementing my hearing while playing for about 25 years, now. I first noticed some problems with intonation - even with tuning about 25 years ago. This problem was cured by wearing a plug in my left hear to attenuate the sound (close to my violin) by about 12 to 18 DB. Then about 10 years ago, I felt that the sound that was entering my right ear lacked important overtones and my violins sounded too weak to me.

At that point I purchased a rather inexpensive mail-order hearing aid (about $200) to wear in my right ear. It literally made my violin(s) sound like "a million bucks to me" when I wore the hearing aid in my right ear and nothing in my left ear. I now wear the hearing aid whenever I play violin or cello, or attend concerts, or listen to my recordings.

Of course my hearing has "devolved" during the quarter century that I've gone from the ear plugs to the hearing aid and that is the reason for the change.

Shortly before I first began to use the left-ear plug, I noticed difficulty defining pitch - especially when tuning to an oboe. This, it turns out, was due to the violin sound overdriving my left ear relative to my right ear (not, s I thought, to the oboe's overtone spectrum), causing me to a higher pitch in the left (louder) ear. I tried an experiment with all the violinists in an orchestra and by providing each with a wax ear plug for the left ear, the violin sections intonation improved immediately - no doubt about it. This phenomenon accounts for the fact that so many violinsts tend to play flat - you can see it in the book " Music, Physics and Engineering" by Harry F. Olson, pg. 250 (Dover), among others. For frequencies above 1000 Hz, increasing loudness leads to perceived higher pitch. This will affect the sound heard from all violin overtones.

The right-ear hearing aid has the same effect of raising the sound level in that ear - if you can match the violin level in the two ears you are well off and your playing will probably improve. You do have to watch out if you over amplify the left ear and get too much sound on that side.

Before selecting a hearing aid, it is helpful to get an audiological exam and get the amplitude/frequency spectrum of your hearing loss. Then try to find a hearing aid that will match your loss to fill in the deficiency. Don't expect to build an over-all loss of 20 to 40 DB back to 0, but there may be some localized dips in what you can hear that can be well compensated by some digital or analog aids. I am fortunate that although my dip is fairly localized in the spectral region of violins' most wonderful overtones, my aid is most effective at those frequencies - which are also the frequencies for distinguishing subtle consonant sounds like "sh" "th" and the hard consonant sounds.

Andy


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