Music regained – Felicity’s story
I used to get so frustrated when people found out I was a musician before I went deaf. So many people would say ‘Beethoven was deaf’ implying that deafness wasn’t an excuse to stop being a musician and, because I had, there was something lacking in me.
Hearing is necessary for the enjoyment of music and as my hearing declined I heard fewer notes on the piano. I could measure my hearing loss by playing down the piano until I came to a note I could still hear until eventually I could hear none of them. And that’s the way it remained for about 15 to 20 years.
When I first enquired about a Cochlear Implant back in 1995 I was told I would probably understand speech, although there were no promises, and while I might hear the sounds in music it would still not be pleasant. So imagine my joy when at switch on I understood speech instantly without the need for lip reading. It sounded funny because my left ear was my worst ear and it had not heard sound for about 30 years.
A few months later I tried listening to music which I knew but it was at first just a cacophony of sounds all roiling around together. So disappointing, but I decided not to give up. It was only a few days later when I tried again and this time it all came together and I recognised the music I was listening to. A moment of pure joy which allowed me to believe I might play the piano again.
Fast forward to 2015. Without much hope I submitted a video of me playing the piano to the Beats of Cochlea Music Festival. It was an amazing surprise when I was chosen to fly to Poland to participate in the Gala Concert. An amazing experience and it reawakened my passion for the piano. I am now taking lessons and studying towards Grade 8.
Does music sound the way I want it? Almost all the time a resounding yes! Some days my hearing is off a little and it doesn’t sound quite right, but the more I play the better it sounds. At first scales didn’t sound as if they ended but the more I play them and once I worked out the fingering, my fingers and my brain worked in tandem and then they sounded right. I would still like a small tweak in quality in my right ear buy my left ear is terrific. Together the sound is so close to what I remember.