Music and hearing loss are sometimes a difficult combination. Depending on the severity and frequencies of the loss, music can sound distorted or have gaps in the sound. It can be tinny or thin as notes are digitally compressed by our hearing devices. My favorite songs tend to be the ones I knew and loved early in my hearing loss journey, because once I recognize the song, my brain fills in whatever gaps my ears miss. Sometimes I can even identify songs before my family can. I guess I have more practice making sense of incomplete sounds. We truly do hear with our brains, not our ears.
Even when I can hear the tune and feel the beat of a song, the lyrics still often remain a blur — sounding more like mumbling or humming than distinct words. But I recently found a solution to this problem. Read the lyrics.
Reading the Lyrics Helped Me Enjoy New Music
Understanding songs on the radio is often a challenge for me. My family sings along to the latest new music and I feel a little bit lost. “Do you like this song?” they ask me, but I am not sure how to answer. I enjoy the beat and tune of many popular songs, but I hardly ever understand the lyrics. So, yes, I like the music, but I am less certain if I like the song.
This happened recently with a Taylor Swift track from her new album. Taylor made good use of her quarantine, creating and launching a new album called Folklore. It has very simple accompaniment — only piano and guitar — so the lyrics take center stage. The songs link together telling one larger story of a love triangle that plays out across time and as told from different perspectives. Classic Taylor Swift, with an added kicker, but I couldn’t understand a word.
Maybe it was due to the breathy quality of the songs or maybe the newness of the acoustic-like sound, or maybe isolation has taken a toll on my hearing. Either way, I was disappointed, because I am a big Taylor Swift fan. But then I decided to search online for the lyrics. Reading them as I listened to the music helped me “hear” the words, and after a few times doing this, imprinted the lyrics into my brain. After that, whenever I hear these new songs, muscle memory kicks in and I can sing along, too.
Readers, what tricks do you use to enjoy music despite hearing loss?
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26 thoughts on “Tips For Enjoying New Music with Hearing Loss”
`if you listen to music on amazon Prime, you have a choice of having lyrics pop up, right on the screen, as the music plays…so nice to have the lyrics right there, as you can sing along.
Makes listening to music so much more enjoyable.
Wow! That is cool. Thanks for letting us know.
I have Prime but not the music part of it. I will certainly look into this option. Thank you so much. I do miss the deep bass sounds in some music though.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I was hoping you might address using earbuds vs hearing aids
Good topic for another post. Thanks for the idea.
Prime includes music and videos!
Music includes captions
Sounds great! Thanks for sharing the information.
I like the Sound Hound app. It identifies the name of the song you are hearing – not the lyrics. Armed with the title you can quickly look them up. Works for both vocals and instrumentals. Classical and pop.
Sounds great. Thanks for sharing what works for you.
The story of my life could be told with music. I have a song for all and every occasion. But my inability to hear the words now has been frustrating. I can hear the music and lose the words or tune the radio so I hear the words but not the music. Google has been a great help, since all one needs is a few words of a line and Google always gets me to the song so I can put it all together. Thanks for this post,
So wonderful that this works for you too. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
Oh dear. Music holds no joy for me is as all I hear is a screech of sounds. Hearing aids in or out makes no difference. So no more concerts and CD’s packed away. I have a fabulous Audiologist but adjusting aids makes no difference.
So sorry to hear that. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Didn’t know that! We have Prime thumbprint on all of the time. Thanks for the info.
No more attending musicals. Was so pleased when Hamilton aired with subtitles this summer.
It was wonderful! More captions on theater would be great! Thanks for your comment.
What is Prime Thumbprint?
So sorry. That should have read Pandora Thumbprint Radio. With Pandora one can give a song a thumbs up or down. When one has done this enough times, you’ve essentially created a compilation of your favorite music. Then one can just Play “thumbprint” radio. We can do this via tv or our Alexa. With Alexa, I simply tell her to “Play Thumbprint radio by Pandora.” If I don’t like a song, one says “Alexa, skip” and if it is something I’m hearing for the 1st time (they tend to throw in new, similar genre tunes) and I like it, I’ll say before or at the very end of the song, “Alexa, thumbs up” and it will be added to my Thumbprint radio station. One can also do this manually, on a tv.
Thanks for clarifying.
Great tips! To answer your question (I’m a professional musician): for super serious listening, I take my hearing aids out and use really good headphones. Sometimes I’ll add some treble. For less “serious” listening, I’ll often use speakers — again, very good speakers make a difference for me, as does the acoustics of the room.
Great advice! Thank you for sharing your expertise.
When they have live theatre again, contact the theatre and ask for a script to follow! Most sent me pdfs, which I opened on my iPad set to white on black and low brightness. I still told those around me before the play started so they’d know what I was doing. Most people said they were happy that the theatre was able to make accommodations for me. The population is aging, and theatres need to do what they can to keep their audiences.
Great idea. Captioned performances are also wonderful. Thanks for your comment.