Music Lessons for Kids with Hearing Loss

Thanks to the advanced technology available today, many kids with hearing loss are playing musical instruments. Some will be good and others not – just like kids with typical hearing. I have two kids with typical hearing, both of whom took music lessons as kids. One was really good, and the other wasn’t. It had nothing to do with hearing.

 

Make kids with hearing loss feel welcome in music class

Music teachers need to be told that kids with hearing loss can take music lessons and will be able to learn. They need to be reminded that some kids are good at music and others are not, but that every kid deserves a chance. Teachers need to be reminded that they need to face a child to be sure they understand directions and try to have the child seated in a place where he or she can easily see and understand. Teachers need to understand the limits of technology – they need to know what the child will and will not hear and at what distance. And they need to know how to adapt.

 

Pick an instrument the child likes

Kids need to like the instrument if they are going to make it work. They need to be want to play it. There are easier instruments (ones like piano where if you hit a key it always makes the same sound) and more difficult ones (like violin where a slight move of the finger can really alter the sound.) Kids with hearing loss can and do play the violin so if that is what the kid wants to do, give it a try.

 

Do hearing aid settings need to be adjusted for music?

Sometimes some pitches will sound tinny through the hearing aids. The audiologist may be able to adjust the hearing aid so the high frequencies are less tinny and have more timbre.

 

What parents can do to help get kids ready to study music

There are some basic things that parents can do at home to help prepare all kids for music lessons. Kids need to learn rhythm. Sing songs, clap in time to music, play clapping games where you clap a pattern and the child has to repeat it. As they get more complex, kids develop more skills.  Start with rhythm instruments – bells, chimes, tambourines, drums. Let kids develop some musical sense from those.

 

Don’t let hearing loss limit a child

Music is just one part of a kid’s life, but it is important for everyone to always give a child the chance to do whatever he wants to try and do. With today’s technology, the sky is the limit (but talent plays a role too). Oh, well.

About Jane Madell

Jane Madell has a consulting practice in pediatric audiology. She is an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and LSLS auditory verbal therapist, with a BA from Emerson College and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Her 45+ years experience ranges from Deaf Nursery programs to positions at the League for the Hard of Hearing (Director), Long Island College Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center/New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as director of the Hearing and Learning Center and Cochlear Implant Center. Jane has taught at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, Downstate Medical School, and Albert Einstein Medical School, published 5 books, and written numerous books chapters and journal articles, and is a well known international lecturer.