14 December 2016
Read an excerpt from the article on Hearing Loss inside issue 93 of Pianist magazine.
Loss of hearing need not be an obstacle to pursuing a passion for the piano. Drawing on personal experience, Nancy M. Williams outlines five key steps to improve your study
In the early years of my adult piano lessons, whenever I played forte chords in my piano teacher’s soundproofed practice room, my hearing aids squealed with feedback. I cringed. I was afraid that if my teacher discovered I had a hearing loss, he would decide I was hopeless as a pianist. So I tried to hide my condition from my teacher and, at some level, even from myself.
Six years later, I made my debut in Carnegie Hall as part of a masterclass recital, while wearing my hearing aids. That appearance precipitated my career as a speaker across the US. When I deliver my workshop on claiming passion despite hearing loss, I frequently perform classical repertoire on the piano.
How did I make what may seem to be a radical transition? Through practice, practice, practice, of course, but also through attempting to come to terms with my hearing loss and to grasp the impact of my hearing on my piano study.
I offer below five key steps for people with hearing loss who are either currently playing or want to study the piano, steps which I came to formulate after years of experience.
1: Appreciate the stigma
When I finally confessed to my first adult piano teacher that I wore hearing aids, he said: ‘I noticed. But it doesn’t seem to affect your playing.’ He told me that he found my playing very musical. To me, his opinion felt like a blessing.
If you have hearing loss, you may also catch yourself trying to hide your condition. Deep down, you may fear your loss will bar you from your passion for music. The first step is to acknowledge the social stigma against hearing loss, a stigma seemingly invisible yet powerful. Once you are aware that the stigma exists, resisting those negative messages becomes easier. Rest assured that your hearing loss does not define you. Identify your strong points on the piano, such as your musicality or technique.
Read the full article inside the current issue. Order your copy now!
Nancy M. Williams is a speaker, writer, pianist and hearing health advocate. She is also the founding editor of the online magazine, Grand Piano Passion
Find out more or follow her on Twitter @NWilliamsPiano and use the hashtag #MyGrandPassion.