Life as a Musician Despite Deafness: Junior’s Story
Even though Junior from Brazil was born with profound hearing loss in his left ear and severe hearing loss in his right ear, he already knew at a young age that he would never give up his love for music. Today, music still plays an essential role in Junior’s private and professional life thanks to his cochlear implant. He shares his hearing journey and tells us how his CI improved his life as a successful musician.
My name is Junior, I am from Brazil and work as a teacher of piano, keyboard, vocal technique, and music theory. I’ve been working with music for over 25 years and, even though I was born deaf, I couldn’t imagine a life without it.
Practice Makes Perfect
I was born with profound hearing loss in my left ear, and severe hearing loss in the right ear. Nevertheless, I discovered my love for music at an early age and managed to learn how to play different instruments, as I was still able to hear low frequencies without any hearing aids.
I started taking guitar lessons in 1990, at the age of 10. Two years later, I also began with my keyboard lessons and in 1993 I decided to learn how to play the piano. Today, I play the piano, the keyboard, the guitar, and the melodica perfectly. I’m a music teacher and choir conductor and love to play at big events and weddings. Besides that, I also studied vocal technique and singing in order to improve my speech.
The First Steps to My Cochlear Implant
In 2013, I started my research with some doctors and speech therapists to find out if I could use a cochlear implant. Since the solution was not recommended for single-sided deafness at that time, I waited until 2019 when I got updated on the new technologies from MED-EL and Phonak. After some examinations by the doctor, he finally told me I could have a CI.
Musical Sensations During Activation
My cochlear implant surgery took place in June 2020. The implant was activated one month later. I remember a feeling of dizziness and heard a sound in my ear that I have never heard before, like a different sensation. During the activation, I played the Carpenters song “Close to You”. The piano sounded very different. I would describe it as more metallic but brighter. I was impressed with the quality of sound the CI gave me.
Fast Improvements Thanks to Rehab
In the first two months after the activation, I was already able to hear sounds in a much clearer and more defined way. I remember being surprised by the sound of rain, which sounded very different before my surgery. Every day, I was able to hear old and familiar sounds that suddenly sounded so new.
It took my hearing approximately one year to adjust, but that would have not been possible without rehabilitation. My speech therapist helped me with rehab tips and therapy. Besides that, I regularly listened to the same music on different speakers and in different environments. I also trained my hearing by watching movies without subtitles, trying to recognize and understand speech in the movie. For my musical hearing, I also started training recognition of timbres in songs, and recognition of musical instruments.
The Advantages of a Cochlear Implant
Hearing loss has always made me afraid of rejection, but it never made me give up on music. Knowing that I would not be able to hear all the musical notes, I always studied by carefully reading them. Until a few years ago, I was quite afraid that my deafness would disrupt my life. Today, I realize that there was no reason to be afraid. My cochlear implant has made me feel so much more comfortable!
Every day I’m rediscovering sounds in songs I’ve always listened to without my implant. After activating my cochlear implant, I hear these same songs with much more richness of details: high sounds, drum cymbals, violins, flutes, and other instruments of medium and high frequencies.
My cochlear implant improved my performance as a musician a lot.
Also, I started hearing bird sounds, something that had never happened before! I’m in love with these new sounds!
Hearing With Great Joy
My MED-EL device changed my life in many ways. Today, I can play in the church orchestra with the drummer’s “click” in my ear, without any risk of missing the tempo of the music. I can hear flutes, oboes, violins, and other high-pitched instruments with much more life and brilliance. I can hear bass sounds with vigor and power. The human voice has become clear despite often relying on lip-reading. And the most exciting thing: today I can hear the sounds of birds. For 40 years, I had never heard birds.
My cochlear implant didn’t just change my way of listening to the world, but also how I listen to myself. It increased my self-confidence and brought joy and brightness to my life. Today I hear with great joy!
My Advice for Others
To everyone reading this during rehabilitation: Listen to the same music several times in different situations while using your cochlear implant: in the car stereo, on the television, on the notebook, and on the cell phone. Try to mentally separate each musical instrument you can identify. Do this leisurely several times daily. The brain listens and it needs to be nurtured and trained.
Thank you, Junior!
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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.