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Music & CI …. My journey

Mary Beth

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music & cochlear implants….  my journey

Today I participated in a panel of cochlear implant users at the 3rd International Music & CI Symposium.  A fun and informative day full of presentations by researchers who are dedicated to improving music enjoyment for CI users.  I learned so much!

Here is a link to the captioned video testimonial describing my music and CI journey.


I am so thankful to have been invited to participate in the CI panel.  There are so many dedicated researchers working hard to improve the way music sounds for CI users.


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During the CI panel, this is what I shared…


Music symposium thoughts


Hello and thank you for inviting me to participate in this music & CI symposium. My name is Mary Beth and I am from the US.


Music was a huge passion in my life growing up.  Then my progressive hearing loss and tinnitus began at age 13.  Each year music was altered and diminished.  Until music became just noise.  I received my CIs in sequential surgeries in 2015.  And since then I have been on a music and CI journey which brought me here.


In addition to pitch perception difficulties with CIs, which fellow panelists discussed and I described in my video testimonial, there are also other features of cochlear implants which impact music enjoyment for me.


The front-end pre-processing features aimed at helping us understand speech in noise have a negative impact on music listening in my experience.


These front end pre-processing features dampen deep bass, diminish the full impact of crashing cymbals, dilute the richness of music that is actually available to me when using a true omni mic setting MAP with all of these features turned off.


It seems that there is an increased emphasis of creating MAPs using those automatic scene-classifying features instead of omni mic setting MAPs.


Most adults are not being fit with an omni mic MAP and therefore never get to experience music without front end pre processing features active.  


Music is so much more dynamic and rich than speech.  I wonder if we can do better by creating a MUSIC focused processing strategy instead of trying to modify processing strategies that were developed for speech and speech in noise?


I enjoy participating in CI research and was fascinated by the image guided CI programming being conducted at Vanderbilt under Renee Gifford.  I participated in that image guided research in late 2016/early 2017.  As a result, I have chosen to keep using only the targeted electrodes that their study recommended on each side and have kept the remaining electrodes turned off.  My clinical audiologist adjusts my MAPs as needed with just these targeted electrodes active.


For me, there was an immediate improvement in musical pitch with the image guided selected electrodes MAP.


In fact, while walking from the hotel to Vanderbilt for the study I passed a large construction project.  It was loud.  After receiving the image guided MAPs I walked back to the hotel passing by the same construction site.  It sounded so different.  I could hear the distinct sounds from each tool, machine.  It was no longer just one noisy construction sound.


This experience has led me to the belief that even our present CI technology can be MAPped/configured differently to immediately improve sounds, and more importantly improve the sounds of music.


It has also led me to the belief that there is quite a gap between research and making those practices standard of care at our CI centers.


Our clinical audiologists are empowered with ways to help determine MAP changes that are needed to clear up phoneme confusion….  like the IOWA medial consonant test… but do not seem to have any tools to address MAP changes needed to improve music enjoyment.  I wonder how we can better equip our clinical audiologists so they feel able to make MAP changes to enhance music enjoyment for all of us?


These CIs have returned music to my life and I am deeply thankful. I am eager to collaborate on research projects aimed at improving music enjoyment for all CI users.  Thank you for this opportunity and thank you for your dedication to music & cochlear implants.

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Thank you do much mb, bless you for getting to this. this is also important to me. My story is similar.. i just continue to hope rehab and mapping makes music get good, id like to hear another band besides the chipmunks and mouse group!

I see aud for second visit friday i hope she lets me know what got implanted so i can have some info to work with.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I noticed some more quotes from you @Mary Beth on the blog this week! 



I think these stories from yourself and others are so valuable in giving new and potential implantees both realistic expectations and great hope about what they may actually hear!

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