‘Rock singer’s hearing loss is an important moment for change’ by Stu Nunnery

Here is one of the many vital reasons why each and every one of us needs to look after and protect our hearing, written by Stu Nunnery for the Hearing Like Me blog.

HLM-blog-feature_rock

The lead singer of rock group AC/DC, Brian Johnson, was told recently by his doctors that he risked total hearing loss if he continued to tour and perform with the band. What seemed like an individual musician’s tragic heartbreak has turned into a cause célèbre and is resonating throughout the music industry. And that’s a good thing.

Specifically, Johnson was advised that if he continued to perform at large venues, he risked total deafness. He later told Rolling Stone magazine, “While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start, nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond.”

But many things have been said since then, that has brought into view a slew of issues that all musicians, those who listen to music, and those who attend concerts might keep in mind – for the “times, they are a changin’.”

Denials, disclaimers, accusations, medical claims, offers of help and proactive moves have flowed in as a response to the rock singer’s hearing loss predicament. There’s even been some fun thrown his way when it was satirically announced that AC/DC would “replace a singer who could not hear with a singer who could not sing.” (Axl Rose of Guns and Roses)

Later, in an interview with a friend, Johnson claimed that his hearing issues were being blown out of proportion and that he was being unfairly released by the band. Another doctor told him that his hearing damage wasn’t as bad as he was initially led to believe and that he can continue to record in studios and he intends to do that. But the band has said no more. Johnson remains hopeful.

There was also apparently more to the rock singer’s hearing loss story than originally divulged. In a 2014 interview with celebrity interviewer Howard Stern, Johnson dismissed the loud music and the use of cannons as stage props as the cause of his hearing loss. He said that he believed that it was the result of “sitting in a race car too long without earplugs. I heard me eardrum burst, because I forgot to put me plugs in under my helmet. That’s how it happened. Music had nothing to do with it.” When asked about the tinnitus he was experiencing, he told Stern, “Ah, you know, you forget about it after a week.”

What is clear from all this are several things. One, knowing the cause(s) of your hearing loss is important. It’s also important to have a professional diagnose your problem. Have you gotten additional opinions from specialists in the field? Whose opinion will you listen to? Additionally, what methods of treatment are being recommended? How do you know what treatments will work best for you and who should administer them? In short, what is the best strategy to avoid hearing loss and what is the best way to deal with the situation after experiencing hearing loss?

It’s not a simple thing and many musicians, myself included, have experienced their own catastrophic hearing losses at pivotal moments in their careers – whether from loud music, canons on stage, race cars,  or the sudden hearing losses that can appear from any number of maladies. I knew I was in trouble during a jingle recording session in 1978 when the hearing in my left ear started cutting out and I began losing correct pitch. It was a quick downhill from there. A year-and-a-half later I had to quit music altogether – with hearing loss in both ears and severe tinnitus. It happened not only at the worst possible time for my musical aspirations, but it was still the “dark ages” in hearing-music research and advances, and I had little help to guide me through the woods.

Today’s circumstances are far better and Johnson may have hope and the help he needs.

And fortunately for all of us, more influential musicians are being proactive to protect themselves and others from the effects of loud music. The band Pearl Jam has joined MusiCares to provide earplugs to all attendees of their upcoming tour. Foundations such as Hear the World also distributes earplugs at live music venues and festivals around the word.

“Don’t be careless and lazy at loud rock shows or cranking tunes through an old Walkman like I was thirty years ago,” said Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament in a statement. “Wear hearing protection or you’ll end up with a 1.5k ring in both ears every night when you go to bed or worse when you are trying to enjoy the serene quiet of an empty desert or forest, again like me.”

Producers and DJ’s who have long understood the benefits of ear protection are also becoming more forthcoming about their own strategies and are helping to identify the wide variety of hearing protection now available.

Out of Johnson’s tragedy may come some very important information we can all pay attention to. As we follow his story it would be a good thing to see ourselves in his position. You don’t have to be a rock star to suffer his fate or the confusion that often follows.

Stay tuned.

by Stu Nunnery.

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Sarah-Jane Gillman’s version of “Uptown Funk” (in BSL)

Lyrics to “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson.

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh
Doh doh doh, doh duh (Aaaaaaow!)

This hit
That ice cold
Michelle Pfeiffer
That white gold
This one for them hood girls
Them good girls
Straight masterpieces
Stylin’, wilin
Livin’ in up in the city
Got chucks on with Saint Laurent
Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty

I’m too hot (hot damn)
Call the po-lice and the fireman
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire, man
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Say my name you know who I am
I’m too hot (hot damn)
And my band ’bout that money
Break it down…

Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don’t believe me just watch (Come on)

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Don’t believe me just watch

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh!

Stop
Wait a minute
Fill my cup put some liquor in it
Take a sip, sign a check
Julio, Get the stretch!
Ride to Harlem, Hollywood, Jackson, Mississippi
If we show up, we gon’ show out
Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy

I’m too hot (hot damn)
Call the po-lice and the fireman
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire, man
I’m too hot (hot damn) {hot damn}
Bitch, say my name you know who I am
I’m too hot (hot damn)
And my band ’bout that money
Break it down…

Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don’t believe me just watch (come on)

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Don’t believe me just watch

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh!

Before we leave
Let me tell y’all a little something
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up, uh
I said Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up

Come on, dance
Jump on it
If you sexy then flaunt it
If you freaky then own it
Don’t brag about it, come show me
Come on, dance
Jump on it
If you sexy then flaunt it
Well it’s Saturday night and we in the spot
Don’t believe me just watch (come on)

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Don’t believe me just watch

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh!

Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up (say whaa?!)
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up (say whaa?!)
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up (say whaa?!)
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up
Uptown Funk you up, Uptown Funk you up (say whaa?!)
Uptown Funk you up
Aaaaaaow!

‘Talking about Tinnitus: Coping, learning and finding relief’ by Stu Nunnery

Many of us tend to suffer from Tinnitus almost 24/7 and we found reading about Stu’s experiences rather interesting.

Here is only an excerpt from his article because we would like to encourage you, to visit his original article for the full ‘Stu’ experience.

“Like many of you I experience changes in the volume, tone, pitch, shape, color, and texture to my tinnitus. And as I am returning to mussssssssssssic the nasty noise machine creates yet another annoying roadblock that I have tried to overcome for many years.  I play piano and guitar and I sing along with them, and if I am singing or playing in the key of G, you can be sure that tinny is droning away in Ab or perhaps C# just for grins. I avoided even listening to music for years in part because of this little wrinkle in my tinny tin tin – tonal disruption.

Some good news: I have been participating in aural rehab which has been strengthening my listening and by extension the quality of my hearing. I also returned to voice coaching again to strengthen my sound making apparatus. And what do you suppose has happened? Yes indeedy, I can sometimes outrun – or rather out “noise-make”- my tinnitus with an armada of sound – both heard and made.  If I keep singing and playing of course.

HA! Take that, Tinny!”

Source: http://www.hearinglikeme.com/tinnitus-coping-learning-relief/

Enjoy!

‘Make The Most Of What You’ve Got’ by Martin Griffiths

At least three people have asked me what gig was I going to see and misheard my reply. I told them I was going to see ‘Wolf Alice’ and one said “Oh, wonder if he will play his didgeridoo?” and another said “Isn’t he in prison for being a dirty old man?”. “No, no, no, I am going to see Wolf Alice NOT Rolf Harris!” I think the number of hard of hearing people will be increasing soon.

I also constantly get asked how can I enjoy gigs as a profound deaf person with severe sight loss. Easy answer is I accept that I cannot hear or see the same as others do but if I prepare properly I will get some enjoyment from

a. Being out of the house

b. Being in a gig atmosphere watching crazy gig neighbours singing and dancing

c. Enjoying what I can hear or see and not stressing about my sensory losses.

Photo by Martin Griffiths

Photo by Martin Griffiths

My preparation for ‘From the Jam‘ at Barry Memo Arts on 26th  March 2016 started with contacting the band via their Facebook page and asking for a setlist. They duly obliged with a warning that on the night there may be late changes. They did appear to drop two songs but lesser known ones. This threw me a little but knowing the songs expected next helps me tune into the song via memory and what my hearing aids pick up.

Tip – if contacting bands via social media it is usually better to contact direct via private message as many bands are not keen to share setlists unless there is good reason.

Often I will search sites like Setlist FM ‘www.setlist.fm‘ for setlists from the latest tour of the band I am going to see. These lists are fan generated and accuracy can vary although I generally find them to be reliable.

Next step is to listen to the tracks via direct audio input to relearn the songs and also checking lyric sites and apps. This can help although often bands rearrange popular songs or do medleys which can be challenging.

Using apps like Soundhound and Musixmatch can help with identifying songs and discovering lyrics often in real-time. The apps may be more successful in linking with pre-recorded music. Live music tends to come with audience generated noises that confuse the apps.

Preparation done so now time to get the ticket and head to the gig. I hope for the best but still look to using my experience to increase the odds of a successful gig. I discovered that in small venues you often can put your hands on speaker stacks and pick up additional information through vibrations. Dont stand in front of the stacks as you may lose the little hearing you have left. I often stand to the side with arm outstretched to feel the music and I hear better.

It is also wise to play with hearing aid settings too. I often find having one hearing aid on the omnidirectional microphone setting and the other on unidirectional works best for me. At one gig someone threw liquid and I took the wet aid out and discovered having one aid out helped me pick up bass notes more easily. Different gigs and venues may require different combinations of hearing aid settings.

I never hear the banter between songs and often fail to hear a familiar song.Time to stay positive and pluck up courage to ask a neighbour what that song is!

Often I have to move about to find best sound spot and it helps to be close and get visual clues. I guessed we were starting Pretty Green just by watching the rhythm of the guitars and drums. I was in the front row so had some visual stimulus.

If I did not know the songs I may still enjoy the broad sound and guess what they might be singing. I know Eton Rifles very well but if I did not I might look at people singing along and think its Eating Trifles!

I tend not to sing along as for some reason doing this reduces what I can hear. I need to concentrate.

It’s not easy but I have to be positive. I sometimes have a beer and take part in some crazy ‘dancing’ but if I do I will lose some of the already reduced quality.

Gotta keep getting whatever enjoyment I can when I can. My sight and hearing reduce each year so there is no time to waste.

Positivity rules.

🙂

By Martin Griffiths.

Martin Griffiths

Mr Martin Griffiths

‘How what I eat affects my sinuses… and my hearing’ by Stu Nunnery

Here is extract from a very interesting blog via the awesome ‘HearingLikeMe.com‘ site, sharing here for those who like to watch what they eat, have allergies or intolerances…

“In my search for the origin of my hearing loss I wondered if my clogged sinuses were another stepping stone on the path. I Googled and found this: that clogged sinuses, especially from a condition called sinusitis can cause stuffiness, ear pressure, pain dizziness and discomfort – the very menu of conditions I remember well. 

But hearing loss?

It turns out that sinus related conditions can be acute and can lead to hearing loss – usually temporary, but sometimes permanently if not treated immediately. The strategy is to clear up any infection in the sinuses before if spreads to the ears. It’s interesting to note that among the recommendations with sinus infections is to avoid caffeine, salt, alcohol, and tobacco products. “These can affect your circulation. Minor changes in blood flow can also affect your ears.” 

For the full blog by Stu Nunnery, please pay a visit via this link:

http://www.hearinglikeme.com/how-what-i-eat-affects-my-sinuses-and-my-hearing/

Enjoy.

Always consult with your GP if you have or suspect a health or medical problem – please. 

 

Somewhere Over The Rainbow…

overtherainbow

Hold your horses!

‘Tis not the Wizard of Oz version but this one from an awesome movie called “Face Off”. I still remember the very first time I laid eyes on this film, a particular scene has stayed with me since then because….

In my experience, being deaf in a hearing world can be such a cacophony of experiences, which can make it a most chaotic place to mingle, so much so that I tend to find myself wanting to tune out, recoiling into a world of my own. Some may say for one’s own sanity and protection, a chance to cease what mental fight there may be. A moment’s retreat is I suspect, what aids me in retaining a calm composure thus enabling me to think with more clarity whilst observing such a discordance of unrest and triviality.

Deaf people are oftentimes overwhelmed with what I term visual “white noise” the very moment we leave the protection of our homes, such as strangers’ faces distorting in order to express and enunciate. In going about their hasty routines, people appear to be clamouring. The meaningless bass sounds of congestion produced by the ongoing traffic. The wayward sounds of any tempestuous weather is lost and therefore, in vain. All of which, are seen and felt but not heard.

Meanwhile there are those of us who may be able to associate sounds with said actions, perhaps from memory or facilitated by hearing aids but silence otherwise, is at times golden, by giving us some respite from the full extent and purposes of sounds.

Yet being able to hear and appreciate music is quite something else to cherish hence, another reason why, I love this scene so albeit from differing perspectives.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Written to conclude my “Silence Is Golden” article. 🙂

Hands on Ears – the video

A while ago members of the Treehouse were asked if they wanted to take part in a video for the #handsonears campaign founded by Danielle Williams.  I was actually going to do it myself but a whole heap of other stuff got in the way and I missed my chance.  However, some of you (our beloved Tree House dwellers) got involved and seized the day alongside others and this wonderful video was made – take a look!

Thanks Danielle.