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Learning not to listen: the experiences of musicians with hearing impairments

Fulford, Robert, Ginsborg, Jane and Goldbart, Juliet (2011) Learning not to listen: the experiences of musicians with hearing impairments. Music Education Research, 13 (4). pp. 447-464. ISSN 1469-9893

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Abstract

The journey from playful musical exploration in childhood to an adult identity as a skilled musician is likely to be problematic for people with hearing impairments. Although a number of subjective accounts have been published, there is a lack of empirical research in the area. In this study, twelve musicians with hearing impairments were interviewed about their musical background, hearing loss and experiences of interactive music making. A thematic network analysis was performed on the verbatim transcripts. Musical families were shown to facilitate positive, early, influential experiences helping individuals to develop musical self-efficacy. These themes were found to operate independently of the challenges posed by a hearing impairment and in spite of negative music-making experiences. Dynamic listening styles were identified, ranging from full reliance on hearing to discriminate and even non-auditory attending. The development of listening styles was found to be crucial in negotiating problems in auditory perception caused by physiological changes in hearing level and the distorting effects of hearing aids.

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