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The University of Southampton
The Music Focus Group

Where there is HOPE, there is music...

Ref:24 March 2011

Richard Reed, creator of the Music Resource 'HOPE Notes' gave an inspiring seminar about his experience as a deaf musician and how he learned to perceive and appreciate music through his cochlear implant.

With the aid of a keyboard, Richard began by describing the loss of his hearing and the impact that had on his life; the inability to gain solace from music, loss of self confidence, coping strategies and his apprehension about having a cochlear implant. Then, following the decision to have a cochlear implant, Richard described the initial tuning appointment and how the tuning beeps sounded like a cheesy electric organ.

Following his initial tuning appointment, Richard said that there was "no such thing as silence post cochlear implant" and that "everything made a noise" from the crackle of cereal to the panting of a dog. Post implantation he was soon able to converse again, but said that it took "an amazing amount of practise to make sense of songs".

During his seminar, Richard gave out some very useful advice for other cochlear implant users who are interested in music. With regard to listening to music that was familiar prior to becoming deaf, Richard suggested that "expectations can set people up to fail" and that often "listening to familiar favourites can be too heart breaking" - sometimes it is easier to accept the sound of unfamiliar versions of a song.

Perhaps one of the most important take home messages of the seminar was Richard's belief that "attitude and positivity are more important than ears" and that he had learned to "embrace his inner distortion" as, for an implant user, "there is no such thing as an acoustic instrument anymore". Richard also stressed that "for ear training and brain training, repetition is key."

Following his seminar, Richard gave a workshop on the use of HOPE Notes, a DVD program that he developed to help other cochlear implant users perceive and appreciate music using folk, blues and country songs that he has composed and arranged.

HOPE Notes is available to buy from Cochlear and copies are also available to borrow from the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre music library - contact Mary Grasmeder for more info:

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HOPE Notes

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