Sorkin, Donna MA; Limb, Charles MD
The Hearing Journal: November 2021 - Volume 74 - Issue 11 - p 28-29 doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000800748.18745.b5
Accessed: 30th March 2022
The conventional wisdom used to be that cochlear implant recipients didn’t enjoy music. Since we called the external device a speech processor, candidates were routinely counselled to expect good access to speech sounds—but not to expect much in the musical realm. Pitch is not handled well by cochlear implants (CIs) and since pitch determines melody, the guidance was “it’s best not to spend time on music.” Expectations for children were even worse since they typically had no memory of music prior to cochlear implantation.
The new conventional wisdom is different. Teenagers with cochlear implants may ignore what adults say they are supposed to like (or not like). Most CI recipients implanted during childhood had no preconceived notions of what music should sound like and many decided they liked what they heard! Similarly, despite guidance from professionals, many adults decided they wanted to try listening to music with their CIs. Some who had a musical background before losing their hearing pushed forward despite the fact that the sound was different. Musicians who use CIs provided guidance. Listening to music isn’t a competition. It’s about enjoyment and benefits people with CIs can derive from music, which can be enormous.
Music is arguably the most complex and sophisticated form of sound possible. Music is a form of patterned sound that uses elements of pitch, melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre to convey meaning. Lyrics are often part of music, adding a linguistic dimension to the musical experience. It is helpful to break down music into these components, and evaluate the way CI devices transmit information by category.
MUSIC PERCEPTION FUNDAMENTALS
The following tips may help CI recipients enjoy music.
CHOOSE SELECTIONS WITH CARE INITIALLY
Certain types of music may sound better than others—start with those.
Familiar songs or music selections that people recall from before their hearing decline may be easier to follow.
Music with a strong beat (e.g., rock, rap, hip hop, country) may be easier to perceive.
Selections that are not overly “complicated” or noisy may sound better. Fewer instruments may help.
MAKE THE SOUND AS CLEAR AS POSSIBLE
OBTAIN THE WORDS TO SONGS
TRY DIFFERENT SETTINGS ON THE SOUND PROCESSOR
MAINTAIN REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
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