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Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, Guitar & the Fundamentals of Music

Clef Notes

Playing Piano While Wearing Hearing Aids

Playing Piano While Wearing Hearing Aids

If you recently started wearing hearing aids and play piano, you may find this note useful. If you don’t and never have worn hearing aids, but you play a musical instrument, you may find this interesting. If you’re like me and have worn hearing aids for some time and play piano, well, you may have already experienced what I am about to tell.  This is not based on any research I’ve done or read about hearing aids and playing a musical instrument. It’s entirely anecdotal based on my recent personal experience.

I’m 67 and started wearing hearing aids about four years ago.  I started piano lessons 18 months ago and bought a relatively inexpensive digital keyboard. I hate wearing headphones and while my wife is reasonably tolerant of listening to me play scales (!), I always practice with the volume turned way down so as not to annoy her.  However, I noticed on those special occasions when she was out of the house (and I was therefore able to play at higher volumes) that most notes I played were followed by a faint noise like drinking glasses rattling.  I assumed it was my relatively inexpensive keyboard and soldiered on.  Oddly enough, I never noticed the same noise on either of the keyboards used for my lessons at the Crescendo Music Loft studio. However, that reinforced my belief that the noise was something rattling in my own keyboard.

Then for Christmas I got a new piano, one just expensive enough that when I heard that same glass rattling noise, I knew it wasn’t the keyboard and believe it or not that was the first time I thought it might be my hearing aids.  Simple enough to check – just play the piano without wearing my hearing aids (duh!).

To make a long story short, two separate trips to my audiologist and the problem was solved. We were not able to fix it on the first visit because, surprisingly, my audiologist doesn’t have a keyboard in her office!  Again, duh.  So, on my iPad using a simple voice memos app, I recorded a slow play of each note on my piano all the way from bottom to top – and took that with me to the audiologist.

First of all, that brought the problem into better focus for me because there were some notes (mostly bass) that were not followed at all by the glass rattling sound. But from C4 up, the glass cupboard was shaking like crazy and there was some microphone feedback added at a few notes in the C2 range which I rarely play and therefore had never noticed.

I didn’t think a recording would be enough for the audiologist, but it worked very well. She has a lot of patience and was intrigued enough by the mystery to test my hearing repeatedly using the piano recording and adjusting the hearing aids until she had eliminated virtually all the extra noise.

A simple scale played on the piano is once again a beautiful thing to me.

My point here is that hearing aids are miniature computers that can easily be programmed by a trained audiologist. If you play the piano and wear hearing aids, listen carefully. You may not be hearing what you’re playing.

14 thoughts on “Playing Piano While Wearing Hearing Aids”

  1. Brian, I don’t wear hearing aids but found this so interesting! And if I were a hearing-aid wearer I would want to know this for sure 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks. Let’s hope there are others out there in cyberspace that find it interesting and wander into the Crescendo Music Loft website!
      Brian

      Reply
  2. Wow, I just got hearing aids and was severely disappointed in how all my keyboard patches sounded the first time I played with them in. I expected everything would sound great and I would hear everything I might have been missing. Wrong! It all sounded terrible. It made me really question what was real, until I discussed it with some other keyboard players. I have been back to the audiologist to make some adjustments, but I am mostly finding that I do better just turning them off, or way down when I am practicing or playing with the band. I do think I will try your tip about taking recorded piano notes the next time I have an appointment.

    Reply
  3. This is really interesting, Brian! I had not considered them as “tiny computers” before, but that’s a great way of looking at it.

    Reply
  4. Brian, I play classical piano and the hearing aids I am wearing now are Signia and I get feedback and noise and the notes are not true. I know this because I’ve had my piano tuned 3 times in one year, installed a humidifier in the piano and still the notes are ‘off key’. Is it my hearing aids ?? I spe======

    Reply
    • Hi Kat. I completely empathize … and sympathize! I had awful feedback and some notes just didn’t sound right. I’m not an audiologist, but given my experience it certainly seems as if your hearing aids are the culprit. Jonathan (post above) suggested simply turning off your hearing aids which would certainly eliminate any feedback noise, but my hearing aids aren’t just for volume. They correct higher pitches for me. So, not wearing my hearing aids wasn’t ideal. I persisted with my audiologist, went to see her three times for tuning (my original post was after the first appointment, but I had to go back twice more for her to tweak the tuning) and eventually she (the audiologist) got my hearing aids very, very close to perfect – not perfect, but close. I still get a little feedback when I play a high C or F key. But otherwise, I’m satisfied that tuning them has much improved what I hear when I play the piano. My aids are programmable with different settings, so I have one setting that is just for piano.
      So, bottom line – – I think your hearing aids could be tuned by a good, patient audiologist with improved results for you.
      Brian

      Reply
  5. Hello!

    I came across your delightful blog post, “Playing Piano While Wearing Hearing Aids,” and I must say, it struck a chord with me. 🎹🎧❤️

    Your personal experience and insights into playing the piano while wearing hearing aids were both relatable and inspiring. It’s wonderful to see how you have found a way to pursue your passion for music despite any challenges you may have faced. Your story serves as a reminder that hearing aids can enhance our abilities and open up new possibilities for creative expression.

    In line with your article’s theme, I wanted to share a valuable resource with you and your readers. Widex, a leading provider of innovative hearing solutions, offers a range of state-of-the-art hearing aids that are designed to provide exceptional sound quality and support individuals in various activities, including playing musical instruments. You can explore more about our offerings on our website at http://www.widexbd.com. 🌐🎶👂

    If you or your readers ever have any questions or need assistance, we have a physical address at 152/2/N, Nahar Plaza, Green Road, Panthapath, Dhaka-1205. Feel free to reach out to us at +8801712621035. We would be thrilled to provide any guidance or support you may need. 🤝📞

    Thank you for sharing your personal journey and showcasing the harmonious blend of music and technology. Your article is an inspiration to musicians and individuals with hearing aids alike. Keep making beautiful music! 🎵🎵🎵

    Best regards,
    Md Arifur Rahman

    Reply
  6. Dear author,

    I recently came across your engaging blog post titled “Playing Piano While Wearing Hearing Aids,” and it truly resonated with me. 🎹🎧❤️

    Your personal experience and the insights you shared about playing the piano with hearing aids were both relatable and inspiring. It’s wonderful to see how you have overcome challenges and pursued your passion for music. Your story is a testament to the transformative power of hearing aids, enabling individuals to fully enjoy and engage in the creative expression of music.

    In light of your article’s theme, I wanted to bring to your attention a valuable resource that aligns perfectly with your message. Widex, a leading provider of innovative hearing solutions, offers a range of state-of-the-art hearing aids designed to enhance sound quality and support individuals in various activities, including playing musical instruments. You can find more information about our offerings on our website at http://www.widexbd.com. 🌐🎶👂

    If you or your readers have any questions or need assistance, we are here to help. You can reach us at +8801712621035 or visit our physical address at 152/2/N, Nahar Plaza, Green Road, Panthapath, Dhaka-1205. We would be delighted to provide any guidance or support you may require. 🤝📞

    Thank you for sharing your personal journey and highlighting the harmony between music and hearing aids. Your article is a source of inspiration for musicians and individuals with hearing aids alike. Keep making beautiful music! 🎵🎵🎵

    Warm regards,
    Md Arifur Rahman

    Reply
  7. Great post. Glad to know other people also had this problem. I just got my hearing aids a few days ago and everything from B3 upwards has that glass-like feedback. Hopefully my audiologist can come up with a fix!

    Reply
  8. Anarion,

    Glad you found the post useful. Any time I forget to set my hearing aids on the setting my audiologist programmed for playing piano (I have three pre-set programs on the aids), I immediately know it by that same glass-like feedback you referred to. I hope your audiologist can program your aides to reduce or eliminate it. If not, and if you’re in Connecticut, my audiologist is Dr. Megan Blanchette at the Center for Better Hearing in Cromwell, CT. If you are not in CT, perhaps your doctor can contact Dr. Blanchette for advice. Feel free to contact me directly if I can be of help – email: jones.mclean@comcast.net
    Brian

    Reply
  9. I experience the same thing playing on a grand piano and wearing Oticon OPN S2 hearing aids. My audiologist re-tuned the music program to boost bass and reduce the gain in the high frequencies. This led to feedback when playing the A5 note. Correcting for that problem has brought back buzzing after striking certain notes. The same program is reasonably satisfying when listening to live music or CD on a good stereo.

    I wonder if the buzzing comes from over amplifying the higher frequencies that come from resonance even when playing lower notes. Since my hearing starts to drop off after C5, I’m going to experiment with leaving the hearing aids out while playing.

    Reply
    • Hi James.

      We’ve gone down very similar paths as far as rounds of tuning and results. After all was said and done by my audiologist, I ended up with a much improved experience but still a little buzzing with certain notes. It IS worse when the volume on my piano is turned up. I tried leaving my hearing aids out while playing but I lost too much detail and richness of tones, so I wear them and put up with the occasional buzz.

      I hope overall you’ve ended up with improved results from the hearing aid tunings.

      Brian

      Reply
  10. Thanks for sharing your experience. In some ways the piano sounds better without the aids. However, the lack of some of the higher frequencies takes away from the enjoyment. On the guitar, the sound is like having ear plugs in reducing volume. Maybe I have become to accustomed to the hearing aids.

    Reply
  11. I was eagerly anticipating hearing the “true” sounds of my keyboards when I got my hearing aids, but I was shocked when I heard them. Very unpleasant and disappointing. I did try having my audiologist make some adjustments, but ultimately have found that just turning the heading aids volume down or off is best. In a live band setting I don’t need to be amplifying the sound to my ears in any case.

    Reply

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