Hearing-impaired students and Suzuki method

Ann said: May 23, 2014
 1 posts

I am the parent of an 8-year-old cello student who is profoundly deaf on her left side. We found out about her hearing impairment when she was 4, a few months after she started cello lessons.

At first, we wondered about the wisdom of continuing lessons. (Due to the severity and nature of my daughter's hearing loss, a hearing aid was found not to be helpful, so she hears in "mono," has difficulty locating sound, and cannot follow speech when there is background noise.) But we decided to keep going to see what would happen. Four years later, my daughter is at the end of Book 3, plays in an orchestra, and is thriving.

At first, I was worried about what my daughter wouldn't be able to do. But our experience has been quite the opposite: we are constantly amazed at what she can do. I imagine her hearing loss may become more of a challenge as the repertoire becomes more difficult and demands more musicality and nuance, but right now she seems to be able to compensate well and is really enjoying it.

Are there any other parents out there who are parenting young musicians with hearing loss? Or teachers who are teaching students with hearing loss? Or can anyone point me to resources on this topic?


Libby Felts said: May 25, 2014
Libby FeltsSAA Staff
Forum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
36 posts


Wonderful to hear how well your daughter is doing!

Irene Mitchell wrote an article on this subject (teaching a student with hearing impairment) for the ASJ. https://suzukiassociation.org/news/remarkable-story-emily-her-cochlear-implant/ https://suzukiassociation.org/people/irene-mitchell/

I'm sure she would be willing to talk to you more about it!

Barb said: May 25, 2014
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Hi Ann,

Thank you for sharing your daughter's story.

My husband is 70% deaf in one ear and earned two music degrees after the head injury which caused the hearing loss. He has the same problems as your daughter with regards to direction of sound and following speech with background noise. He also prefers not to wear a hearing aid.

I see no reason your daughter cannot continue to thrive in her cello playing. Indeed, maybe those of us with hearing left ears are at the disadvantage in playing the cello. We can be fooled regarding our tone based on what we hear "under our ear" rather than what the audience hears.

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Heather Reichgott said: May 26, 2014
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
96 posts

My sister is deaf on one side. She is a trained opera singer and is a full-time working musician (voice teacher and church music director). It never slowed her down, in fact, I think that she has learned to hear more carefully than most of us do.

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