Music therapy can have an impact on a wide range of populations. It can help the elderly, specially those with dementia, it can help kids with burns, also children with autism, and premature babies in the NICU. And so much more! There is even one population you wouldn’t think of when you think of music therapy. And that is: music therapy with the hard of hearing!
You might not expect them to be in music therapy because for us, music seems to be only an auditive experience. We hear music. So it would follow that if somebody can’t actually hear the music the same way, that they would not be able to experience it, right? Wrong!
Music is not just an auditive experience, it is also a sensorial one. We feel the music in all of our bodies. Music is, after all, vibrations, and those vibrations can affect our whole body. I am sure you have experienced at some point being in a club or at a concert and you are experiencing music as you feel your whole body vibrate, it is not just your ears. Well, this happens also when music is not so loud as in a big concert.
What are deafness and hearing impairments?
Hearing impairment, deafness, or hearing loss refers to the inability to hear things, either totally or partially. People who are profoundly deaf can hear nothing at all. Deafness and hearing impairments bring a lot of challenges to the life of an individual. Hearing loss can be particularly debilitating as it affects our ability to communicate with others.
Nowadays, the existence of technologies such as cochlear implants give the opportunity to individuals to hear more than they would otherwise. They are not perfect devices and people most likely are not hearing things like music the same we do. Yet, it is a technology that has an impact and will keep improving in quality!
Music Therapy With the Hard of Hearing
Music therapy can be an aid for people with the milder hearing impairment all the way to people with profound deafness. The vibrational aspect of music is something that almost everybody can experience. Having a skilled music therapist work with the hard of hearing population is the best way to ensure that all the characteristics of music are being used. There can still be communication and expression through music for those who unfortunately do not hear as well as we do.
Perhaps it’s best to share with you an example from JB Music therapy:
“Four year old Kenny looks at the guitar anticipating the first strum. I strum the guitar and he looks into my face. His teacher carefully puts his hearing aides into his ears and I strum again. His face brightens with a huge smile and he hugs his teacher. Over the next 45 minutes Kenny uses a mallet on a drum, sings on different pitches, and moves his body to the deep sounds he and I create together.. but his favorite feeling seems to be the feeling he gets when he lays his cheek on the guitar, closes his eyes and just feels the vibration on his face.”
If you want to learn more about music therapy with the deaf or hard of hearing here are some further resources for you to check out:
Vibe Music Therapy – Music Therapy and Profound Deafness
JB Music Therapy – 4 Ways Music Therapy Supports those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Music Therapy for the Hearing Impaired
Oxford Hanbooks Online – Music Therapy for Children and Adults who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Voices – Music Therapy Interventions for Deaf Clients with Dual Diagnosis