“INTERIOR DESIGN: Music for the Bionic Ear” jumped out at me as the obvious choice for my second year research project: as a musician and student audiologist, it combined my two interests perfectly. So what if there was some data entry required? How much could there possibly be?
Famous last words.
Faced with the daunting task of ploughing through over 400 feedback surveys, I recalled that sage advice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” So, beginning at the beginning, over the course of a few weeks, I slowly made my way through the box of surveys from the first concert of the evening, tackling along the way such obstacles as ‘unique’ handwriting (to put it kindly), and the dreaded ‘ambiguously circled number’. Having reached the halfway point, it seemed an appropriate place to take a break and give an overview on what we’ve found so far.
I’ve enjoyed reading the comments along the way: whether positive, negative, confused, angry or delighted, it’s exciting that the majority of the audience seems to have been able to hear enough of the music to be able to form some opinion about it. Some interesting trends have emerged from the data so far. When comparing data from cochlear implant users and normal hearing listeners, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that their responses tend to mirror each other—indeed, for some of the pieces, the responses almost overlay one another, suggesting there was little difference in the way the two groups of listeners interpreted and enjoyed the pieces of music.
This is encouraging because one of the main goals is to create a meaningful dialogue between hearing-impaired and normal hearing listeners by introducing new musical ideas accessible to both groups. Whatever their reaction, good or bad, it means they’re listening to—and, more importantly, hearing—the same piece of music.
I thought I’d end with some nice comments I came across today, from two cochlear implant users:
“I am very keen to take up music again. Listening to the concert has shown me that I should experiment with what instruments I decide to pick up. This has made me realise there is more to music than strictly classical – which is what I grew up with!”
“Thank you so much for all your time and dedication and for all your work to make the most of our hearing. I am very touched by it all and today was fascinating and vastly enjoyable.”
Photos courtesy of Hamish