A MED-EL Musician: Eva Costa’s Hearing Journey
Eva Costa is a MED-EL musician and music teacher: she has had her VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE for about a year, and just last month was a finalist in the Beats of Cochlea music festival. Here we’re excited to share her story:
A Hearing Loss
I don’t know what caused my hearing loss. Maybe it was because I had a lot of inflammation in my ear before my adenoids–the lymph glands near my nose–were removed, or maybe it was because of the medication that I had to take for that. I really don’t know. I had used hearing aids twice, when I was 13 and 29, but both times I gave up on it because I didn’t like them! I could hear a bit better but my ability to understand sound was the same! I used them only for a month or two and after that I returned them.
Then my hearing loss became too much to ignore. My mum told me that my hearing was getting worse because she kept talking to me and I didn’t understand her. In order to be able to understand what she was saying I always had to go into the room where she was, something that I didn’t have to do before.
So, I decided to do a search on the internet about new technologies in hearing loss and implants. I saw a lot of things about cochlear implants but I knew right away that that was not for me, because I can still hear. I kept searching and I finally found out about middle ear implants. I read all the information on all of them and decided that I liked the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE the most. All in all the SOUNDBRIDGE was my best bet and I could have the surgery in my own country with a renowned Portuguese surgeon.
Growing Up with Music
Music has been a part of my life for a long time, and I love to perform for the public. I’ve played in two music competitions for “normal” hearing people near my home town in Portugal. Last month I played at the Beats of Cochlea competition in Poland. I got to know about it through someone in my cochlear implant association, and applied with a video of me performing. They accepted me!
I loved the experience! It was so good! I got to know new people, to see people like me, to see music professionals with a hearing loss just like myself. These professionals showed that it was possible to have an implant and play music just like any other normal musician.
I got to see and hear a singer that has a cochlear implant and her performance was in tune, something that amazed me. Everything was so amazing and if there will be another festival I will send my performance again. It is indeed a pleasure!
It all started with my aunt, who was a piano teacher. I remember that whenever I went to her house I loved to play her piano. I always wanted to study piano and music when I was little. When my brother was going to music and recorder classes I told my mum that, if he was going to music classes, I wanted to go too! I was then 6 years old and my brother was 9 years old.
I also started studying the piano when I was 9, but after 5 years of that I knew my real love was always the recorder. So I went on through school and started studying for a Master’s degree in music.
It has always been very hard to play well when you have a hearing loss, but I always did the best that I could! I never gave up and I finished my degree. In fact, most of my teachers didn’t even know that I had hearing loss and evaluated me just like any other normal student. I’m proud of it, because I graduated on my own effort and capability and now have two Bachelors degrees in music: one in music education and another in music.
Making Music with the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE
And now, I can even teach others to play music! It’s not easy, but it’s possible! I have my own strategies. In a group with 20 students, rules are very important for me. The most important strategy is: “speak one at a time”. This rule is essential for me to be able to understand them all and for the class to go well.
It’s easy for me to play the recorder because I can feel the air going through it, but tuning is the most difficult part! So earlier on I acquired my own tricks to help me tune my instrument. For example, putting more or less pressure in the air when I want to tune my instrument with another instrument at the right point; asking the player of the harpsichord to do an arpeggio; or the violinist to play a long note. Another trick is getting a musical note as a reference in my head. It’s not easy, but to be able to play I have to do this.
Now my life is much better! It’s easier to tune and play my recorder, and I hear new things in music pieces that I thought I knew. Now I can hear the sound of a clock on the wall, the water boiling, the steps of someone, the sound of tree leaves being blown by the wind and more. It’s so good that I’m already talking with my doctor about getting a second implant!
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