Severely hearing impaired student. Tips??
So I've run into a speed bump in the form of a precocious eleven year old transfer student who's got a mouth that'll make the hounds of hell flee. Smart as a whip, learns everything quickly, and is deaf as a post. Kid's verbal and talking a mile a minute, but has absolutely no pitch perception. Hearing aids in both ears, profound hearing loss in both.
His hearing loss is the high frequency kind, meaning everything after E5 goes silent. His former teacher used stickers, I'm told, but he wants to attempt playing without them. Inability to hear the top string is the least of his problems, however. He is unable to distinguish between semitones and tones. A and B sound the exact same to him, as do A and C. He can tell you that A and E sound slightly different, but terms like high and low, bright and dark, are totally lost on him. Forget about subtler nuances like tone shading.
Kid's got good motivation and drive but the world's worst intonation by no fault of his own. Google is no help. The same commercial about a deaf girl from Thailand pops up, nothing else.
Oh, the kid can't sing. I'm not sure if this is universal to the deaf community but he cannot hum or sing.
As it happens I work for a deaf childrens' charity in the UK, and we have a some resources about how deaf children can take part in music! Have a look here:
If high notes are a problem, focus on baroque music while transitioning him to a fiddle teacher. If the student's hearing is so bad that they cannot hear "ring tones" or other cues for intonation, it needs to be explained to the child's parent that this will be a profound limitation in classical violin. The piano is a fine instrument for someone who is deaf. Beethoven had to give up the violin too.
Yes, ring tones are out as well. He does mention that they feel different. I assume he's talking vibrations.
Corinne, have you tried Intonia? http://intonia.com/index.shtml
I'm really hoping your student doesn't read your post, because it isn't exactly pleasant to him ("a mouth that'll make the hounds of hell flee.").
Maybe transition to fretted violin or mandolin? At the least, put the stickers back on the violin. No shame in that! Maybe use black tape if he doesn't want it to be obvious.
It is me in the description of that boy. I had to watch my son stays on the correct string to control him after his first lessons. I do not have aids. I can detect very low volume sounds. I think it is like to have very good vision and see everything in sharp, but in a white/black scale. For me the diffrence between A and E is minimal, and semitones not detectable. I can not sing as well. I do like to do it, but none can recognize the melodie. But i am very good in rythm, phrasing, putting emphasis and nuances, and controlling my fingers. And i really liked to study music, and i enjoy the sounds very much. Sax works for me. And piano. And i see all violinist as magic people.
Keyboard or percussion!
I am not based in the States and the student speaks minimal English, if any at all. It's only taught in junior middle school. His lessons are conducted in our native language!
Wow, I can't imagine the determination that would lead such a student to continue to try to study the violin! My hat is off to him for drive, regardless of where it takes him.
On one hand, never under-estimate human potential.... On the other, do not give false hope if there are objective limitations. You need a professional information from your student's audiologist and ear doctor. Once you grasp the real extent of damage, you will be in a better position to provide advice. If bone hearing is better than by air, some devices could help, but your student will be a very lonely musician.
What's the likelihood that this student would eventually receive cochlear implants?
Lydia, he isn’t a candidate for CI. He’s using Phonak bone conduction aids, if I am not mistaken.
Your English is just fine. It's not politically correct to tell a person with a disability they can't do something. But blind people do not drive cars, and deaf people do not play the violin. As Andrew said, the piano or the drums.
11 at Suzuki book 2 is not too old to pursue a professional path, as long as you can reach a very high level by the time you reach high-school graduation. Can he hear music clearly? If not, is there a way to crank up his hearing aids? I don't want to discourage him unless it's absolutely necessary. I highly recommend consulting with his audiologist. Making really quick progress is going to be noticably more difficult for the hearing-impaired. And yes, he can play for pleasure.
He has no desire to play professionally. I am honestly unsure if things like vibrato or artificial harmonics will ever be accessible to him. I’ve tested him without hearing aids, he can’t hear me unless I shout at the top of my voice, and most of what he hears isn’t quite accurate.
How about cello? Lower notes and a lot of physical contact with the resonance of the instrument and people who like the violin would like the cello?
I've not had to deal with this, but it sounds like you've had some good advice already. An app that helps him hear pitches (or will respond sensibly to pitches he puts out) might be a useful training device.
He simply wants to learn the violin. That’s all he ever says, and it’s really enough of an explanation for me.
Corinne, you are certainly not doing anything unethical by helping this young man in his interest. In fact I think it is a wonderful thing to do. I think it is an interesting challenge and finding alternatives and guides will be difficult but worth pursing. After all, there are blind artists-
@Paul Deck - please don't make generalisations like "deaf people can't play the violin".
I think there is some relevance here:
"Deaf" refers to a pretty broad range of impairment, just like "blind" refers to a pretty broad range of impairment. Where someone is along that range -- plus any mitigating technology like a cochlear implant -- is going to make a huge difference in what is and isn't likely to be possible.
A customer of mine and his blind wife restored an early Rolls-Royce together. She was very adept at certain tasks that involved feel. When the car was nearly finished, he would drive the car to a large vacant parking lot and she would drive it around in circles, figure eights, and such for hours. While she could have never driven the car completely as intended, they greatly enjoyed this time spent together.
Chris Keating wrote, "@Paul Deck - please don't make generalisations like 'deaf people can't play the violin'."
I'd like to suggest going to "woodviolins.com", an electric violin maker, and taking time to understand their theory and practice of making fretted violins. It's not what you think it is, because the frets are low and subtle, and the intention is to put your fingers on the frets, not behind them. So vibrato and glissando still work. The frets are a tactile reference more than fixed pitch standards, and their fretted violins require a very light touch with the left hand, which is good technique anyway. That could be a useful strategy for your special needs student.
Thank you, all, please don’t fight.
Transparent tape works too, for the tactile feel. When I was a kid, I transitioned from yellow to blue to black to transparent tape, I think.
I just cannot get it why sometimes parents push children to directions that are really really hard for them. As he is otherwise a good student he could be a nice piano player in stead of an horrible violin player.
But if you are deaf how can you hear vibrations as you cannot even hear the sound on piano?
Maria, he is the one who wants to learn. He isn’t in it because of a tiger mom or dad. He has no intentions of going pro, and he simply enjoys it. His first position is pretty solid, solid enough for me to have no complaints. I am not deaf, so I don’t know what his takeaway from it is. He can’t hear what he produces, but he enjoys the process nonetheless, and I think that’s admirable.
You can feel them in your body. The whole meaning for deaf people to study music is to extend the possibility to differentiate as many sounds as possible using every avaible sensor. The student needs to focus on his feelings in his body. Is it different when he is exposed to different sounds. Has he resonation in his chest? Can he detect vibrations with his feet? Can he see the differenses between string vibrations? Etc.Can he control his fingers to make an exact position everytime? He needs also to learn how to use his brain and body to mask that he is deaf. The violin lessons are very benefitial for him. And most proably he is in love with the violin because of the feelings it gives for his hands or chest. You can try to use that.
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