Hearing Aids for Music: Exploring the music listening behaviour of people with hearing impairments

Contact Name: Dr Alinka Greasley

Dr Alinka Greasley is Lecturer in Music Psychology at the University of Leeds. Her research centres on people’s everyday musical behaviour and she is an on-going contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology on the topics of musical preferences and music listening. Her current project ‘Hearing Aids for Music’ is exploring how music listening behaviour is affected by hearing impairment and the use of HA technology. She is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and member of the British Psychological Society, and the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research. She is also a violinist, pianist and DJ

Music listening has significant health and well-being benefits, including for people with all levels of hearing impairment. Digital hearing aids (HA) are optimised for speech amplification and can present difficulties for music perception. The AHRC-funded project ‘Hearing Aids for Music’ is currently exploring how music listening is shaped by hearing impairment and the use of HA technology. Findings from two studies will be discussed. First, a clinical questionnaire investigated the extent of music listening issues and the frequency and success of discussions with audiologists about music. Data from 176 HA users (age range 21-93) highlighted issues listening to live music performances, hearing words in songs, the loss of music from their lives and associated social isolation. Most had never talked about music with their audiologist. A second study explored HA users’ listening experiences in greater depth, with the collection of pure tone audiometry. Accounts from 22 HA users (age range 24-82) showed how listening behaviour is influenced by interactions between the individual nature of hearing loss (e.g. type, level, duration); levels of musical engagement (e.g. daily exposure, training) and contexts (e.g. recorded music at home/travelling,  live performances). The talk will conclude with a discussion of how these findings have informed the design of a national survey which seeks to identify patterns in the listening behaviour of a wider population of HA users

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