Trailblazing a Career in Music Audiology: Interview with Lisa Tannenbaum

music audiology career
August 11, 2022

This week, host Heather Malyuk sits down with Lisa Tannebaum to discuss how she came to specialize in music audiology.

Tannenbaum has more than 30 years’ experience providing ear protection and hearing devices for thousands of clients. She established Musician’s Hearing Services in 1993—the first practice on the West Coast to focus on the audiological needs of musicians, sound engineers, and production personnel.

This week’s special episode is sponsored by Tuned.

Full Episode Transcript

Heather Malyuk 0:10
Welcome to This Week in Hearing. I’m your guest host Heather Malyuk, and I’m thrilled to introduce my guest today Lisa Tannenbaum. Lisa is an audiologist in Southern California. Though she works in a variety of facets within the audiology field, she has been not just a specialist within the music, TV, film, and live events industries. She’s actually one of the original music audiologists, which is what we will primarily focus on today during our conversation. She owns musician’s Hearing Services, which has locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But I know a lot of her work is done on site at Rehearsal Studios, venues and other locations. I’ve known Lisa for almost 10 years now and consider her one of my mentors. It’s rare to get her on an interview like this. And as a result, many of our listeners maybe have never heard of her. But she is truly a matriarch of non-regulated hearing conservation, as it relates to musicians, especially in regard to custom earplugs and in ear monitors. She has over 30 years of experience within the pro music industry. And she’s one of the co authors of the recent clinical consensus document on working with music industry professionals that was published by the American Academy of Audiology. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Lisa, and something I always take away from watching her is her ease of counseling and educating when it comes to hearing loss prevention, and the prevention of music induced hearing disorders. So that being said, Lisa, thank you for taking time out of your really busy schedule to record with me. I’m so excited to ask you questions today. So thank you for being here.

Lisa Tannenbaum 1:50
Thank you, Heather. That was all very, very, very flattering, and nice. I appreciate that. And the funny thing is you call me one of your mentors. And this has come full circle, because now you are one of mine

Heather Malyuk 2:06
circle of audiologic life.

Lisa Tannenbaum 2:08
You’ve got Yeah, yeah. I mean, I just I look at what you do and how you do it. And I’m just inspired every day. And It does make me want to be a little bit younger. But you know,

Heather Malyuk 2:22
well, I’m, I’m really excited to chat with you. Because there were some questions I thought of to ask you that, like I’ve never asked you in 10 years. And so I wanted to take this opportunity to kind of learn more about your background, and really kind of what things were like when you got started. So I guess just to start with the first question, what was your background before audiology? And what got you started in this field? How did it all come about?

Lisa Tannenbaum 2:49
Well, I had a number of – I didn’t come, I didn’t go to college right out of high school. I was one of those. I don’t know. And don’t really think that’s for me. So I worked a number of different jobs. I won’t go through all those. Except I will get up to my very last job out of this field. And that was for a cutout record company.

Heather Malyuk 3:19
Oh, cool.

Lisa Tannenbaum 3:20
Oddly enough, my path unintentionally, from the time as a teenager kind of herded me in this direction. Why I have no idea. But um, I was an order processor. It was a mail order business. And I worked there for a couple of years. And it was fun, because we got to kind of do the music industry stuff, we’d go to shows down at the Santa Barbara bowl. And, you know, we’re kind of in that groove. And this is fun, free tickets, whatever. But that wasn’t why it was there. I was there because I needed a job. And I was only getting paid minimum wage. And I went into the owner one day and I asked for a raise and they said no. so and so. You know, I’ve been here for a couple of years, and I would I need to make more money. He said, Well, Lisa, you’re okay, you’re an order processor. I said, Yeah. Pretty good order processor. And he said, Lisa, there’s no more money in the budget for an order processor. What else can you do? I mean, this is the best way to get a kid to go to college. Yeah, I thought I can’t do anything. Seriously, I was like, you know, in terms of any special skills, I couldn’t even say I’m the most organized person and I’m a marketing person and I was totally stumped. So I started taking classes out at a junior college just to figure out like, I don’t know, I honestly had no clue what I wanted to do. What I could do so within that process, I took a sign language class. My sign language teacher is still one of my best best friends. She’s 20 years older than me and was still hanging out together ended up living together when she came up to San Francisco and went to the UCSF. I forget what was called it was it was a deaf program. Anyway, she had a friend who ran the hand handicapped Student Services at Cuesta College. She introduced me to her and I just started tutoring this Linda mood, Belle, speech and language program, just for something to do and for the money. So anyway, I’m going to land the plane. But that led to that led to me working for this woman named Pat Linda mood, who started the program, I realized I could make about $1 more working at her clinic. So I did that. And she informed me that she thought I’d be a really good speech language pathologist. So she encouraged me to go into speech language pathology, if you talk to a lot of audiologist of my vintage, they’ll tell you that they started thinking that they going into this field, they thought, I’m going into speech and hear it or not speech and hearing the speech and language. Yeah. And then. So at that time, the this is way before AuD, and all that. So the the major was Communicative Disorders on the undergraduate level, use special use. The curriculum was the same for speech and hearing. I had never heard the word audiology and what that was. So, you know, during those years, I was the speech step wasn’t really ringing my bell. But I found myself in really intrigued and fascinated by the hearing stuff that year. And, you know, so much more interesting to me than the rest of it. So then for your master’s program, he would specialize in either the speech or hearing. So, you know, thank goodness, I was interested in that. And I wasn’t interested in the other part, but I wasn’t stuck. So I just continued on with the audiology path. Awesome. Yeah,

Heather Malyuk 7:22
where did so. Okay, so you didn’t necessarily become an audiologist to be a music audiologist? Oh, and I know that term that term like has only existed in recent history as it’s become an actual, like, recognized thing. But what so what’s with music audiology? Where did that start?

Lisa Tannenbaum 7:39
So again, this is all happened so organically. First, I didn’t know what an audiologist was. And certainly back in the 1980s, there was no such thing as music audiology, right. And I mean, so I was working. When I got out of school, I worked. You know, I was really fortunate, I worked for a really, you know, a few really nice people and really nice practices. I want to hear about all that, because we’ll be here all day. But anyway, so at the time I was work, this was circa 1992. I was working for Larry Inge, a friend of mine and a fellow grad student at San Francisco State and he started this really, really nice practice and was just lovely. And all of his equipment was really up to date. And, and it was just a really, really nice work environment, mostly adults, just doing traditional, not just but traditional audiology, diagnostics and hearing aids and oral rehab and all that. And I went to a AAA meeting. I think it was Florida someplace. And I met Michael Santucci. And he of course, you know, the whole story, but he owned Sensaphonics hearing conservation. He had just started to launch these things called in ear monitors. Yeah.

Heather Malyuk 9:20
So that was like the first year he made one, right? I know, he’s told me it’s like early 90s. Yeah, yeah. Wow. So you were right off the bat?

Lisa Tannenbaum 9:30
Pretty much. Yeah. So I thought it was all very interesting. And he quartered a couple of us at that show. Let’s these other audiologists are now retired. But anyway, we had a really, really fun gang of what now would be called a music audiologist. But we were just in the network. Yeah. So anyway, I went back to Larry’s office and you know, for work on monday and I went in and talked with his business manager, Steve. I said, you know, this, I met this audiologist and it AAA. And this sounds like kind of an interesting concept. I can’t tell you a whole lot about it, because I really don’t know. But I’d be something interesting to add to the practice, you know, something fun, like, you know, we all know, everything else that goes on in here, but and Steve’s, the business manager said, Well, you know, can you show me some numbers? Because there’s gonna, there’s gonna be a small investment to send me to Chicago for training. You know, my travel costs, and some, you know, initial equipment, setup and whatnot. And, you know, so he needed some numbers. I’m like, I have no numbers. I don’t even know what this really is. It could be anything where, you know, I It’s cutting edge technology, I’m told, and so I wasn’t disappointed when they declined. I understood it. And it was absolutely the wise business decision on their part. I mean, it just, yeah. Because they were investing in me to get the training. It wasn’t like, you know, sure. And although I worked there, I mean, who knows, we all know that things change anyway. So I just took it on myself.

Heather Malyuk 11:18
So that’s when you started your private practice.

Lisa Tannenbaum 11:21
I didn’t start well, that’s when I established my practice. Okay. I mean, I literally, I went for the training. And then I started getting a couple referrals for musician earplugs. And I was even set up to sell anything. Yeah. So then I realized I needed a business license. So I literally went down to San Francisco City Hall stood in line filled out the forms. And I said, Well, what’s the name of your your business? And I kind of looked at the lady and I said, Musicians Hearing Services. I started my business. I never business plan. I didn’t, I just knew that I had to have a license to sell things. Yeah. So yeah, that’s, that’s, again, this, this all just kind of came along. And then what was nice is, you know, Larry, and Steve had given me their blessing to do whatever I want with this, you know, to, they didn’t want it to interfere with my time in the clinic, of course. And at the time, I had so little business that it was mostly in the evenings or on the weekends. It didn’t really interfere much with what I was doing. I did it as it developed. Then I started kind of cutting back a couple of days in clinic. So I really had it just a perfect situation for slowly starting this little practice. I noticed the other day to make in the

Heather Malyuk 13:06
Oh, the podcasts I sent you with Brad Stewart?

Lisa Tannenbaum 13:08
Yes. Yeah. So Brad Stewart I had never really coined what – a way to describe my business. Yeah. And he mentioned a lifestyle business. Yes. I thought, That’s I’d, all these years. Thank you, Brad, for coining it for me, because that’s really what it what it is. And it’s just me, it’s pretty much just me, I get little help here and there. But, you know, it’s, uh, I didn’t set out to start this big. conglomeration. I mean, you know, it’s sustains me and I love what I do. Yeah. And, you know,

Heather Malyuk 13:47
so anyway, I think you and I are similar in that way. And I think a lot of music audiologists who get their start, we’re in another practice first, and then worked part time. I know, I worked part time at a local clinic here while I was getting my practice set up. I mean, that makes perfect sense. I’m curious about that timeframe. So we’re looking at like, early 90s music industry. And I want to know what the scene was like, in terms of you going out as a woman, and working with bands and what that was like for you. I know. Oftentimes, I go backstage now and work and I might not see another woman there. You know, and I’m just I’m expecting it was, quote, worse, although I hate to use that term. But I’m, I’m assuming it was even more. So. When you got started. And I’m just curious what the vibe was like and how you’ve seen that change? Over the years. I haven’t seen

Lisa Tannenbaum 14:38
it change that much. I mean, I really haven’t. Yeah, you know, I don’t I don’t know that it ever was an issue for me. It just was what it was. I don’t know. I mean, I guess in some ways, it may have been to my advantage. You know, like when backstage before a show or something, and I, you know, be there for a reason to see somebody. Yeah. And these guys would see this lone ranger lady kind of wandering around outside the dressing room

Heather Malyuk 15:16
it’s got to be the audiologist.

Lisa Tannenbaum 15:18
So, you know, it would it would, it would provoke dialogue, you know, what do you what are you doing here? You know, and, you know, so sort of been sometimes I would end up, you know, getting more business that way, because then I would tell him, who I was and why I was there and start talking about earplugs, or, you know, whatever. Yeah. And so, you know, it didn’t later as it is now, occasionally, you see some female sound engineers coming through and yeah, that’s always refreshing. And of course, now having people like, like you and you know, other women who are doing what we do is certainly going to trade shows and all that I used to just be me and Michael Santucci and I, I was I don’t know, I grew up with three brothers. So you know, I’m comfortable. You’re used to it. Yeah. And then, you know, I don’t know, I’m just the whole, I don’t know, that really, I can’t say that. That’s been something that I’ve tripped on at all over the years. That’s awesome.

Heather Malyuk 16:22
I’ve, I noticed when when I was younger, like when I first started. If I when I was a student, that Sensaphonics. And then my first couple years there, if I was alone, going to a venue, I would often be stopped. And I’d have to call someone to let me in. Because they would think I was trying to sneak into a show or something that’s changed over the years. And I think, especially as my confidence with what I do has gotten greater. But it was always in the past. If I showed up with a man next to me, I’d get right in. Oh, where so I have seen a change in that over 10 years. And that might be again, because of my confidence level. I don’t know if you did you ever run into that?

Lisa Tannenbaum 17:02
i Okay, here again sometime. First, I was always me. I didn’t like I didn’t start out going out with my career, you know?

Heather Malyuk 17:12
Yeah, cuz you were in a different state.

Lisa Tannenbaum 17:14
I was just, I was just me. And so I always did my best to get my credentials lined up before I went, I learned that, then, you know, you start going into same venues, and people kind of get to know you. Yeah, so you get over that barrier. And then well, I won’t, I was gonna get off track telling his friend that I have I have other connections that have absolutely nothing to do with the music, audiology, but I have friends who actually own some of these venues. Okay, are they can they promote in them? And yeah, I know a lot of people from different. This was in San Francisco. Right. And I don’t know anybody anymore.

Heather Malyuk 18:00
I know, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been doing a lot of venue stuff, because of COVID to like, just getting back into that. But in Ohio, once I started going around to the, like, handful of venues. Same thing, just what you’re saying the guys who were working there, you know, union or whatever, who were backstage said, oh, here comes Heather with her kit, you know, so it became a thing where they they got to know me, I’m really curious about the onsite stuff when you started. So I know people would come into the clinic and see where they’d come see you in person rather than you going out. But the career you started in the era you were in the technology for onsite hearing testing. Again, not looking at OSHA, not looking at vans, but sort of like what us music audiologists do now with taking an audiometer with us that that technology was not really invented yet. That kind of like bootless stuff we do now and I’m curious what you would do you know, we’re looking early 90s going out to a venue talking about any ears or plugs. What were certain things that you made sure you did with each artist or crew member to try and put hearing health first. How would you go about that?

Lisa Tannenbaum 19:07
You’d be surprised it really hasn’t changed much. We did go out with our portable audiometers again, I went through the school of Michael Santucci, you know, as well as anybody how adamant he is and was from the get go about hearing conservation. That show I lugged my old MA 41 Maico audiometer around everywhere.

Heather Malyuk 19:39
So you’ve told me stories about testing in you know, a hotel room or with someone but I didn’t realize you did that right from the get go. Oh, yeah. Wow. That’s

Lisa Tannenbaum 19:48
so cool. Yeah, well, it sounds cool. I mean, you know, we chest in some of the most ridiculous listening environments? I mean, I would sometimes just go. Why? You know, not only is it you know, way too noisy, you know, I really don’t like testing even if you have my personal thing, even if you have the best equipment a year an exception, could you really have the best equipment that Kuduwave

Heather Malyuk 20:23
And well, obviously you didn’t have that. It didnt exist. No, no,

Lisa Tannenbaum 20:27
I still don’t. You know, it’s, you have the, the Cadillac quite literally Yeah, you’re, you’re, you’re hauling a booth around you, with you. But the challenges that I have go beyond that a lot of it is time constraint. Yeah. You know, somebody comes out and they’re like, Okay, and as you know, it’s often come out and make impressions. You know, we have this much time between soundcheck and dinner on the show. Yeah. And we want you to see five people. And you know, you feel it out. I don’t have to tell you, but

Heather Malyuk 21:06
you know, when you get to the venue, and they say so and so decided to go golfing, or she decided to do whatever. So sorry, can you wait three hours and then see them for 10 minutes?

Lisa Tannenbaum 21:17
Yeah, I get it. Yeah. And so but if you do that, even in the in the old days, when, and I’m going to make a comment about that in a minute, something else but to do a test to get especially if you’re going for a baseline to do it. And you know, these guys are in the middle of tour they’ve been planning every night. Yep. There to get a baseline baseline on arrested year on a non rested ear. I’ve just really switched things around in the last few years, where I put a lot less emphasis on trying to get that hearing test at a at a at a live event venue, right? It’s one thing if you’re going to recording studio, or you’re going to rehearsal site where you know, they have some quiet rooms or somebody’s home or

Heather Malyuk 22:11
when of course you can arrange for them to get a test and then send it to you for your opinion. But I’m sort of picturing you in the early days using it maybe more like a counseling tool. Okay. Yeah, or not, I don’t know.

Lisa Tannenbaum 22:24
Okay, counseling tool. So this is this is where this is evolved so much. It makes me so happy. Because education was a whole different ballgame back then.

Heather Malyuk 22:43
Tell me how

Lisa Tannenbaum 22:46
our education was explaining to people what in ear monitors were.

Heather Malyuk 22:52
That’s true, I didn’t think of that. But they wouldn’t have known when was going high,

Lisa Tannenbaum 22:57
you know, the advantages of the in-ear over stage which set up and you know, all the, you know, different, you know, things about feedback and room acoustics and blah, blah, blah, blah, and then you would try to convince them that they’re better for your ears than the stage monitors. And even what we’ve learned about that, over the years is, you know, has changed, you know, yeah. So. So, you know, these days, it’s like, you know, what our conversations are, it’s like, you know, well, this material will give you this much isolation and this material do something else. And, you know, we’d like you to have isolation, but if that’s too much, then you know, we have these ambient, you know, features that we could suggest to you and, and we talk about, you know, the advantages of binaural summation and don’t wear just one and tinnitus and hyperacusis distortion and annual hearing test. And I mean, back then it was a totally different narrative.

Heather Malyuk 24:07
One, this is one of the things that I always say, when I talk about music audiology, especially to like students I have now is that the way the field I walked into was pretty easy compared to the field you walked into, because I have better tools. The industry knows what an ear monitor is, and some of the basics about it. And then I can enjoy spending time counseling about disorders more than you guys had time to do. preventionist

Lisa Tannenbaum 24:34
I didn’t even know some of this stuff.

Heather Malyuk 24:36
Yeah, well, audiologists today don’t know a lot of it because it’s not something that’s taught. We don’t we don’t do they teach it now and they program? No, not I think there’s like one or two that introduced music specific things, but otherwise, no, it’s not really brought up.

Lisa Tannenbaum 24:50
I think I had maybe a two hour lecture on occupational hearing conservation and Hmm. So college so it was like, you know, and I actually did go out and one of my jobs I did some of that, which

Heather Malyuk 25:07
and that’s, that kind of leads to my next question, which is, you know, I know your primary thing is not just music industry, but live events, industry, film, things like that. But outside of those worlds, what other hats are you wearing in audiology? In terms of other things you do outside of that specific

Lisa Tannenbaum 25:25
specialization? you mean to put food on my plate?

Heather Malyuk 25:28
Yeah, paritally Yeah. I mean, like, what are all the gigs? You’re doing?

Lisa Tannenbaum 25:31
Yeah, um, I have a contract for probably over 20 years now with the senior living community in the Bay Area. And I go up there once or twice a month to service the residents about 300. So I love that gig. Yeah, it’s, you know, the average age is 85 years old. And I really do enjoy being there when I am there. And it kind of helps me keep my fingers and sort of normal audiology. You know, more typical audiology,

Heather Malyuk 26:15
like hearing aids and diagnostics. Yeah, yeah. You know, yeah.

Lisa Tannenbaum 26:20
All that. And then a couple days a month is enough for me. I kind of get my fix. Yeah. And, and then I combined that with. I have have an office in San Francisco and have an office in Beverly Hills. Originally, the bulk of all of my practice was in San Francisco. Starting out that didn’t work there. Then more of my, oh, my business was happening in LA, just a lot of unfortunately, a lot of the music scene moved out of San Francisco and down to LA, New York. So I kind of followed it. And then I got stuck in the middle in San Luis Obispo. Not a bad place to be stuck. Yeah, my family lived here. And I won’t get into all the personal stuff. Why I did that. But San Luis Obispo is, is located right between San Francisco and Los Angeles a little bit closer to LA. So these days, I, I live in San Luis. I occasionally see patients here. I don’t have like a, you know, they just come to my house. Somebody’s passing through that’s happening more and more, because a lot of people will pass through San Luis Obispo on their way I’ve had, I’ve had a tour bus pull up in front of my house, and they’re like, Wow, you ride on the way. And we That’s perfect.

Heather Malyuk 27:51
That’s really convenient for you, because I’m sure traffic gets in the way. Yeah, that’s awesome.

Lisa Tannenbaum 27:57
So um, I think I’m getting off track here what your question was, which are just the

Heather Malyuk 28:02
other gigs you have, because I think that could be inspiring to a lot of younger audiologists who are thinking, gosh, I can’t start my own practice and do different specializations. And it’s not going to work out. But you have you have made a practice work for decades, because you’ve diversified yourself.

Lisa Tannenbaum 28:19
Absolutely. And you have to I think it’s would be very difficult to do just just the musician niche, but the other things that have morphed around that so that the hearing aid thing with the older folks, that’s, that’s separate it’s it’s two separate businesses, really. But for instance, like the NFL Network keeps me super busy. Yeah, that’s

totally different. It is. Yeah.

So I fit. I’ve worked with them for 17 years, and I fit their talent with IFVs for studio use and and broadcast down from the field. So yeah, that said, and, you know, especially certain times a year round Super Bowl and super busy with them. I do a lot of stuff with operations. And behind the scenes production, people do a lot of earplugs, and again, I have fees for the radios. I go a couple of times a year up to Skywalker Sound and fit their post production people with ear plugs.

Heather Malyuk 29:36
This is such a patient population that I think people forget about that these people exist and they have ears and they need care, not just sales, but someone who knows how to really help them protect their hearing, especially when using these devices because you and I both know that they could really hurt themselves sure if it’s not done the right way. So I think that’s really important work I to go Back to the music side of things. I’m just curious what you think of this, but what do you wish other audiologists knew about music audiology, in terms of where it came from, you know, what should be done now and where the field is going? So what do you kind of wish the typical audiologist knew about what you do? I would like

Lisa Tannenbaum 30:25
them to know that this is a very special population. People who really, really need our our services, yeah, yeah. Because they are self regulated. It’s not like somebody who’s working in a factory, whose ears are getting potentially beat up every day. They have somebody there, you know, because of OSHA and right, they’re regulated. Yeah, they’re regulated. So whether they like it or not, they’re going to be told about hearing protection. And somebody’s going to hand him at least a little piece of foam and say, put this in your ear, or else. So not only do our musicians work in these, almost as bad if not worse environments. If they lose their hearing, their livelihood is at stake.

Heather Malyuk 31:26
Not just that, but the livelihood of the people they employ.

Lisa Tannenbaum 31:31
Good one

Heather Malyuk 31:32
I had that recently. I had a patient recently who was dealing with a hearing injury, he employs a couple 100 people. Right, you know, and so he’s done. Everybody’s really

Lisa Tannenbaum 31:42
good point. Really good point, it affects so many people. Yeah. And so it goes beyond even quality of life or enjoyment of music, or it’s really, it’s really important. And I’m kind of dumbfounded that still this many years later, there are a lot of people who don’t know where to get help. Yeah,

Heather Malyuk 32:06
that’s true. You mean from the music industry? Side? Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really good point. Yeah, education, even for them doesn’t seem to be quite there. I think those of us who are in the industry kind of see it everywhere, because we know what we’re looking for. But they really aren’t sure who to talk to.

Lisa Tannenbaum 32:21
I still meet people from time to time, which was, of course, commonplace 30 years ago. But have you ever heard of musician earplugs? Like, Oh, really? Yeah. Oh, oh, well, I’ve been wearing these little foam things, but they get so dirty and can’t hear anything. Oh, my gosh, yeah.

Heather Malyuk 32:42
So that says that the field of audiology still has a lot of work to do.

Lisa Tannenbaum 32:46
It really does. And I think what’s interesting about our field and why getting back to what other audiologists, I would want them to know, I don’t want to discourage anybody for going from going into this as you and I have. But there it is a very specialized field. Yeah. Because you, you’re not just it goes beyond just, you know, regular clinical practice and trying to, to uphold all the best standards and all that stuff. Um, you have to do it often and very challenging situations. And you also kind of have to learn the physician culture,

Heather Malyuk 33:46
the culture, and then also like the different set of best practices. And I think that’s what was so nice about that clinical consensus document that we were both co authors on was even if an audiologist has a musician walk into their clinic, so even if they’re not going to do kind of what you and I do, they have something they can print out and use as a guide, which is so handy. Some things to not forget about, like, Hey, make sure you test their hearing and look at what they’re going to be putting in their ears and verifying things if you can and all that stuff. Because I think until then, there really wasn’t

Lisa Tannenbaum 34:18
a little easy guidebook. Yeah, no, I think, yeah. I wonder how many people actually read those things. But I hope

Heather Malyuk 34:25
a lot. I mean, we’ll see it probably takes a number of years for it to catch on.

Lisa Tannenbaum 34:29
And I think it takes the motivation. I know there are a lot of things that are written about cochlear implants and pediatric audiology. I don’t read them because I don’t

Heather Malyuk 34:40
I don’t write you have to have an interest in like me working in that area.

Lisa Tannenbaum 34:43
And I think that’s the other point. I think if that’s with anything if if you’re interested in something you think it’s something you want to pursue, you got to really explore it. Right? I see if if you are cut out for it and not every I’m audiologist who works with musicians has to go out and see them and write venues. And I think that’s really where it gets a little tricky. You know, it’s, I mean, it sounds kind of weird, but you know, I mean, there’s the whole backstage etiquette

Heather Malyuk 35:18
is its own culture, you know, I lovingly refer to it as the pirate ship, you know, walking into a different culture, you’re walking into somebody else’s home, ya know, and you’re not, it’s not the clinic where you’re in charge, it’s somebody else’s home, and you have to adhere to their rules

Lisa Tannenbaum 35:37
have to adhere to their rules, you have to be very patient, you have to be okay to work. And with a lot of unpredictable situations,

Heather Malyuk 35:48
yeah, we don’t need to get into those on this podcast.

Lisa Tannenbaum 35:53
You know, and then if you’re somebody who really needs to stick with strict time constraints, and you want to get paid for every minute that you’re there waiting for somebody, or which I understand I mean, you just have to kind of get into what may be kind of going back to some of the things that Brad said, you know, you just have to figure out what, what’s your business model? What do you want to do? What do you certainly you’d have to ask yourself, Am I doing this? Because I want to meet somebody famous, right? Or do I want free tickets to a show? Where do I you know, it’s like, really love, you have to, I think, be passionate about doing what you’re there for. And that’s to help these people keep doing what they’re doing for a really long time by protecting their ears, and giving them the tools and the information that they need to do that?

Heather Malyuk 36:45
Absolutely. That’s that’s what it’s totally about. And I know you and I, when we get together, we we have some crazy stories. And I’m not asking you to share any crazy stories right now. But I do I do want to ask about a side of crazy, which is, what’s something you’ve done, that other audiologists might consider crazy, you know, something you’ve done with a band or artist for the sake of hearing care? Sorry, to put you on the spot. Crazy situation you’ve been in where you’ve made it work? Or a weird place, you’ve had to test hearing in Oh, yeah. Or so someone come in, you know, to your house. And it was strange, but she made it happen, or, you know, anything, I probably have 10 million of those stories, as, as we all do, but I’m just curious, like, what pops into your head, think of that.

Lisa Tannenbaum 37:40
I could tell you some really good stories, but they’re probably too long.

Heather Malyuk 37:44
And you can tell anything you want?

Lisa Tannenbaum 37:47
Oh, well, just just from sort of everyday standpoint, what could happen is, sometimes they go, Oh, God, if somebody saw what I’m doing right now, I mean, I might be in a dressing room, with one guy on the couch, maybe even on the floor, on his side with deep roots in his ears.

Heather Malyuk 38:10
In the shower,

Lisa Tannenbaum 38:12
coming and going you know, trying to soften the wax for irrigation. And then you know, you go to irrigate, and the water’s cold, and there’s only trickling out about that much because it’s an old venue. So you’re running around, asking people for a tea kettle so you can boil some water to every job.

Heather Malyuk 38:33
Yep, I’ve been there.

Lisa Tannenbaum 38:36
Meanwhile, you know, you’re making impressions on somebody else, and people are coming in and what are you doing? And which that’s just standard? Yeah. But I think the I don’t know if this would come under the heading of crazy. certainly interesting. Early early on in my career, I was called to work with. And I’m going to be really careful not to give away any names or

Heather Malyuk 39:05
anything. No names or identifying information. Yeah, yeah.

Lisa Tannenbaum 39:10
And actually, I don’t think anybody would necessarily know this. Anyway. So I went down to a scaled down to this studio in North Hollywood, upscale recording studio. And the tour manager who called me, Danny said, you know, at least he said, I know how you work. I know you’re always very professional. I trust you implicitly, blah, blah, blah. Said but this is kind of an interesting artist, and there’s some kind of germ issues that you know, they have and, and plus in the culture they come from, they’re not really used to women. Okay, in any kind of a health, medical role working with them. So I said He said so I need you to really present yourself as more of a medical expert by now on the student what don’t mean like where my lab coat or something? Because yes, where your last coat and your glasses. Wow, okay. So I go down my feeling like a total geek. You know all these handsome rock’n’roll dudes running around I’m like, my classes my lab coat when really wondering who the hell I was. So anyway, I hearing tests like the molds everything went very well I assumed because two days later, they wanted to fly me to Japan to do the rest of the band. Did you go? Yeah. Wow. That’s kind of crazy. So Wow. But I’ll tell you the crazy part of that. So I know it was Thanksgiving weekend or week. I remember the time when I’m anyway. Um, so I went. And the plan was the next day I was going to go over to the studio and work with recipe. But turns out I flew over with business class so it was you know, lots to drink and eat. I’m just kicking back took my shoes off. Okay, boots on. Actually, I think my Bucha I get off the plane. And I’m like, I couldn’t get my shoes back on. There. My swelling from the slide. Sorry. I probably looked like I was drunk. And I really was and I’d been sleeping mostly but go hobbling off the planet go out in either gate where I could have gotten out there were these young Japanese men from the Japanese music agency with these two signs that say, Dr. Lisa, you have to understand. This was way before AuD Yeah. You had I mean, the only doctors were PhD audiologist. So

Heather Malyuk 42:17
did you take your white coat?

Lisa Tannenbaum 42:19
I did. I did. But I didn’t wear it off the plane. I just burst out like laughing like to myself. I’m like, Oh my God, if you make it see me not nice. And like look at me. Are you like I’m like Doctor like hobbling us. So I became a walk with my eyes are so swollen. And then they whisked me off to the studio that night. I thought it was going to be the next day. I hadn’t showered, I had a walk in this room full of Japanese businessmen on business suits smoking and drinking scotch. And I thought, wow, this is a crazy thing you do for

Heather Malyuk 43:01
that? I was I would classify that as a crazy added for hearing health.

Lisa Tannenbaum 43:05
And then I couldn’t I had to have an interpreter interpreter was during the hearing test. That night. I slept really

Heather Malyuk 43:12
well that night. I’m sure you’re probably exhausted. Wow, I can’t believe I have not heard that story before. Well, that’s a good one. That was yeah, I’m gonna have to do more podcasts with you. I really liked that one.

Lisa Tannenbaum 43:24
Well, that speak to that needing to be spontaneous, needing to write work with the uncertainty and unpredictability of this business,

Heather Malyuk 43:34
which is hard for a lot of I think the personality types and audiology, to kind of consider working in that way being whisked off somewhere. I know. A lot of us who do this kind of work have similar stories. I have not been to Japan, I don’t think I would do that because I don’t like flying that much. But you know, you do you have to be flexible. And you have to make it work. And that certainly you did it. I love that so much. And we always say you know that the stories that we can’t share one day, we’ll all write a book. And when we’re all dead, it can be published, if I remember them if we but I really appreciate you being on the podcast and sharing your story. And, you know, taking this time with me to talk about kind of your history in the industry. Thank you so much.

Lisa Tannenbaum 44:23
We need to interview you.

Heather Malyuk 44:25
Oh, one day, give me a couple more decades under my belt and then we’ll be ready.

Lisa Tannenbaum 44:29
I know. I know that you get interviewed off about shit.

Heather Malyuk 44:33
I just love hearing about the history of you know how you did things I didn’t realize from the get go in the 90s you are already doing the best practices that people like me are modeling ourselves after. I know you didn’t have the Cadillac but you were making it happen i That to me? Gosh, kudos, like bowing down to that because I think so many of our industries still don’t do that. And yet, when it started before people knew what In your monitors where you were making hearing tests happen, and I just, I’m really in awe of that. That’s pretty cool.

Lisa Tannenbaum 45:05
Well, if I can just add one final thing. Sure. It’s I think the future will be, go out. Spend as much time as we can with the counseling unless it’s appropriate. Sure. And then we make these people aware of telehealth services like Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, can you imagine? I mean, everybody should, they should. When you call me about this, I was thinking about this, because how many times Well, I don’t know if it’s a lot of times, but I’ll get calls like midnight sometimes. To say like, oh, god, yeah, gotta get your cleaning done out. There’s been you bleeding. Yeah. You know, but if people could know, they could go on a tune, they may not get it at midnight. But they’re on the road. And they have a question. It could be something as benign as concerned about earwax or congestion after a flight or two, you know, inexperienced with some acoustic trauma or a place

Heather Malyuk 46:17
to keep all their time hearing loss. Yeah. I mean, I just did that with a band, like about a month ago, where I saw everybody had their tests. And I said, you know, what, I’m gonna send you each a link to create a HIPAA compliant account here. And they had passed tests and stuff, I said, go ahead and upload what you’ve had before. I’m going to upload mine. And no matter where you are in the world, you can pull your tests up and look at my notes. And, you know, it’s just a really nice way to do things and keep it accessible. I was laughing about getting a call in the middle the night because I do as well, different time zones or whatever. People in the music industry work in the middle of the night. And my husband will be like, why is so why is this person this guy calling you you know, 1130 at night and talking about his ears, and I’m like, smell the day for him. Like he’s he just got done with his workday? You know, yeah, no. So I totally hear you on that. And I think it’s, I do think we’re gonna see telehealth continue to improve, not just tuned, but like a lot of facets of it. And even the online screenings. I hope we’ll we’ll keep seeing those improve. And I really think this will be really nice asset. Like, like you said, sometimes audiologists go out and they don’t have time or resources to follow best practices. And in 2022, there’s no reason to shame that, you know, if a hearing test can’t be done, right, because there are other resources. And the other thing is we can collaborate with each other. How many times I’ve sent to Apple who I can’t see for a test, I’ve sent them to an audiologist near them, and then they’ll send me the results and say, Hey, can you give me an opinion? I mean, the other thing is, there are so few of us. We can all work together. Absolutely agree which we do. Yes. Yeah, exactly. Well, Lisa, thank you again. Pleasure.

Lisa Tannenbaum 48:00
Thank you.

Heather Malyuk 48:03
Talk to you soon.

Lisa Tannenbaum 48:04
Thank you, sweetie. save ears

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About the Panel

Heather Malyuk, AuD is a musician and audiologist who hails from Northeast Ohio but is known internationally as an expert clinician and public speaker in the field of music audiology. Dr. Malyuk owns and directs Soundcheck Audiology and is also a researcher at the University of Akron, on a team studying pharmaceutical intervention for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. As Tuned’s Head of Audiology, she feels blessed to be able to use her unique audiologic background to help audiologists connect with a modern patient base. 


Lisa Tannenbaum, M.S., is a music audiologist. She specializes in hearing wellness and listening products for musicians. She enjoys exploring the unique hearing needs of people and devising plans for their ears’ future! That applies not only to her music industry clientele, but anyone who has hearing concerns, communication difficulty or listening challenges.




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