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#2019859 - 01/23/13 08:11 PM Child with hearing loss and piano choice  
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Tjpp Offline
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Hi all-
I have a son with a mild-moderate hearing loss, wears bilateral hearing aids. He loves music and has been taking lessons for a year and we are now getting a piano. (He had a partial yamaha keyboard up to this point). I had posted that our neighbors want to give us an older weber and co upright, we looked at some kawai uprights and baby grand pianos. We also looked at the yamaha NU1 and kawai ca65/95. At this point we want to get him the right next step. We do not know what will happen his hearing, this year it has slipped a little or got a little worse. Not a lot but regardless, seeing him enjoy the piano and music is close to our heart. He has a cookie bite loss which means its almost normal at the lowest and highest frequency and dips into a moderate level of loss at the mid-upper frequency. My question is this, with kids or anyone with hearing loss, is there advantages to am acoustic piano or a hybrid or digital? Anyone come across this? Are headphones a consideration that is important? They say when you have a deficiency in one sense another is heightened and for age 8, he has been quite observant and observant of the differences in the touches of the different pianos...he like the weber touch, like one of the kawai uprights, the nu1 and the ca95 (for sound and touch) and a beautiful Steinway grand, which is way out of our budget but it was fun to see him enjoy!

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#2019888 - 01/23/13 08:44 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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I'd be inclined to let him determine what suits him best. Let him play pianos and let you know which he can relate to best.

It COULD be possible for a good technician to adjust the voicing of a piano so it would sound consistent to him. I'm not sure that would be the best option, as when he played someone else's piano (like at lessons), it would be totally foreign. Same if someone else played your piano.

His teacher would need to be understanding - and help him to play a consistent sound - not overplaying within his hearing impairment range, and underplaying the high and low notes - to make it sound right to him.

It's great fun to play high end pianos - like the Steinway. But you need to keep within your budget constraints - at least reasonably. Otherwise the $15,000 you intend to spend will become - $89,000 - I know, that's me!!


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-15)).
#2019914 - 01/23/13 09:52 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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i have mild-moderate hearing loss as well - a side effect for taking too much antibody in my childhood.
I found out that I have difficulties hearing the alarm beep when i was 15.
The doctor recommend to wear the hearing-aids but I refused. I have no problem hearing normal conversation, but hard to catch whispering or conversation from 5 meters away.
I am now 28 my hearing loss did not really affect my education and career. I think my hearing didnt get much worse. So be optimistic.
- but my hearing loss is in the upper frequencies (which is normal).
human hear has a hearing range of 20hz- 20khz. the piano frequency varies from 27hz to 4khz. Normal voice conversation ranges from 100hz to 300hz. Its important check your sons hearing diagram see if his hearing loss is within the 27hz to 4khz range.

For me, besides my hearing loss in "quantity". I am very sensitive to sound "quality", and an audiophile. a good acoustic piano is definitely a rewarding experience. I particularly loves high-end quality pianos with amazing sustain, (even their upright ones). My
suggestion is bring him around and play different brands of piano. The ones i particularly like is August Forster and Bechstein. An upright or even used one is not as expensive.

forget about the digital, the sound come out a cheap speaker where acoustic piano you can feel the energy within the soundboard and string. What is your budget?

Steven


PLEYEL P124
#2019941 - 01/23/13 10:26 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Here's the concern I have: make sure not to cause further hearing loss.

I would be concerned about the headphones on a digital, as most headphones can be turned loud enough to be an issue for hearing loss. Also real pianos that are very loud, with worn out or very hard hammers might be louder than ideal. Yamahas tend to be a loud piano, btw.

I know a man with significantly more hearing loss than you are describing (he's had it all his life), and he enjoys playing piano and guitar. I realize each situation is unique, but I just mention this as an encouragement.



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#2019957 - 01/23/13 11:08 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Hi Steven and Alan-

Great information, thank you, thank you! So often you do your research and make your decision and move forward but with my sons hearing loss, I don't assume that the same applies I am always learning more or thinking about it differently. I am so thankful for the different people i encounter for all the little bits of info that no one tells you! His hearing loss is mostly between 1k-6k with the worst at 2k and 3k at 45 db.

I asked him to tonight what his favorite so far was and he like the old weber and a kawai upright. Alan, you are right on, I think in seeing what he reacts to! But we haven't had a chance to play the others you mentioned, steven. And you really do see, hear a difference the more you play. We were thinking 3-5/6k but I am actually wondering if we should take the old weber and save some more money and see how he progresses to a point and buy a better piano in 2-3 years. (I hopped online and the Bechstein upright is beautiful.). Our house is not very large but we could fit a 5'6" or smaller baby grand. But again, how much does that cost and should we wait a little and see.

Thanks also for the encouragement on the hearing loss, his doesnt fit any profile, so of course there are no clear answers, as parents, we worry! But he is an amazing kid!

#2019961 - 01/23/13 11:18 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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I would not be too concerned about his personal choices for touch unless he is very advanced. As long as the piano is not at either extreme end in terms of its should be fine. His preferences about touch could be more about what he is used to vs. what would be OK.

I think the best person by far to discuss the merits of a digital vs. acoustic, benefits (if any) of headphones, etc. would be a medical professional or those members, if any, who have had to personally deal with hearing loss.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/23/13 11:21 PM.
#2019970 - 01/23/13 11:40 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Music passion-I never even thought of that. Thank you. We do have remind him to turn down the volume on the tv or if he is using an iPod. Which pianos are softer but still have a full sound? Friends of ours bought a yamaha upright, beautiful but my reaction was wow that is loud. Now it was on hardwood floors (as we have). Other friends have a yamaha c series baby grand and he hops on that every chance he gets and it doesn't sound so loud, but its on carpet too! It doesn't see as loud.

#2019978 - 01/23/13 11:52 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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I would avoid using headphones to avoid being exposed to some errant sound spike due to some malfunction, mis-adjusment etc, of the equipment. Some progressive hearing loss ailments are strongly affected by high, noisy sonic level exposures that more normal ears shrug off with only a decades long slight decline in acuity.

There is some serious conjecture that the hearing loss Albert Steinway suffered as an artillery man in the Civil War spurred him to produce pianos that had great volume without a high "noise" component. Albert was the head of engineering at Steinway before Theodore moved to NY from Germany.

If you can find a Baldwin Hamilton upright from the 1950 to 1990 age that checks out well by a tech-they seem to be available for $1K to $2K after being well serviced. They have a warm and strong tone which may be important for your sons aural/musical well being. Good luck, he sounds like a wonderful young man and good on you for being such caring and supportive parents!


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
#2019985 - 01/24/13 12:10 AM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Steven Y. A.]  
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Hi Steven.

Regarding the range of frequencies that you quote, I would add that although the lowest note on the piano A0 has a theoretical fundamental frequency of 27.5 Hz it has a great amount of power in the higher harmonics as do most of the piano notes. In addition, the lowest notes are often tuned about 30 cents flat.

When you get up to the highest note, C8, the theoretical fundamental frequency is 4186 Hz but there is some power at the 2nd partial. Also, the higher keys are usually tuned about 20-30 cents sharp. Therefore, IMHO, the effective range of the piano is perhaps 20 Hz to 10,000 Hz.

BTW, I am glad to hear that your hearing loss did not affect your career and your enjoyment of music.


Dave Koenig
Yamaha M1A console
1927 Knabe 7' 8" grand
https://sites.google.com/site/analysisofsoundsandvibrations/
#2020024 - 01/24/13 01:32 AM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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musicpassion Offline
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Originally Posted by Tjpp
Music passion-I never even thought of that. Thank you. We do have remind him to turn down the volume on the tv or if he is using an iPod. Which pianos are softer but still have a full sound? Friends of ours bought a yamaha upright, beautiful but my reaction was wow that is loud. Now it was on hardwood floors (as we have). Other friends have a yamaha c series baby grand and he hops on that every chance he gets and it doesn't sound so loud, but its on carpet too! It doesn't see as loud.


Carpet makes a big difference.

Pianos can be voiced - by a technician - to be quieter. They work with the hammers to shape the sound of the piano. As for which ones are loud or soft, maybe that's a topic for another thread. I started writing some of my observations about different piano brands, but then realized it varies from piano to piano. But I think it's something to consider when looking at the different pianos.


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2020136 - 01/24/13 07:33 AM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Tjpp,

There have been good posts here already and good advice given.

I just wanted to take a moment and congratulate you on offering piano to your child. Other parents may have avoided this activity in trying to "protect" their child. Bravo!

Although your son hears this reminds me of tours I have given to students from "Pa. School For The Deaf".

Deaf children touring a piano factory? These are profoundly deaf children who needed a sign interpreter so they understood what I was saying. The children were aged 5 to 9. They were adorable, enjoyed the tour, and asked great questions as well.

At the end of the our time together the teacher asked me to play one of the larger pianos. My private thought was "Why? They won't hear it". Even so I began to play anyway on a very nice 7 ft. grand. Now I wish I videotaped it. It was amazing.

As I began to play the children came over to the piano and stood around it. Almost immediately they all touched the piano. Quickly many of them leaned up against the piano, some resting their heads against it. Some swayed, some closed their eyes, and some hummed along (not on pitch), but all of them enjoyed it.

Watching this happen with profoundly deaf children was a moving experience for me. But it was a totally normal one for them.

Lesson learned - Music is for everyone!


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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#2020245 - 01/24/13 11:31 AM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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I wear two large hearing aids.
I don't like digital pianos if I am not wearing them.
In my opinion you should avoid anything with headphones until the boy is old enough to have the wisdom not to turn the sound up too much. (about 45 years smile )
Buying the less expensive piano and waiting until your son is more advanced is smart.
Do not buy him an expensive piano too soon. For some reason that can cause a youngster to quit playing. It happens too often. It may be the pressure to live up to the expensive instrument takes away the fun.
Bechstein makes superb uprights. I think they are better than most grands.


Kawai K-800
#2020317 - 01/24/13 01:28 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Tjpp Offline
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Music passion, thank you for the tip on the voicing, I didn't even know that was an option. It would be an interesting thread to start with opinions and experience on the loudness and softness of different brands. I might do that. I am very curious to put a list together of piano brands and models to check out? I tend to like the warm, smooth sounds rather than the brassy, bright direction.

Rich, thank you for that story!

And for those of you with hearing loss, the encouragement, thank you! We have no idea where his hearing loss will progress to or not, but to see the gifts he has is such a blessing. Conversations in loud environments, background noise, classrooms, whispers are all challenging for him, but to see him hop on a piano and play from coldplay or music man and know when something isn't sounding right and work it out seems like a mysterious gift...

I started out thinking that a hybrid or digital would have been the best choice for him but after hearing such good thought provoking feedback here, I don't think that's the case anymore! Think I am crazy for taking the Weber & co. Upright and then in 2 years getting something else?

One more question for those of you with hearing aids, do you have a program on them for when you are playing piano?

I could hug each of you for such thoughtful input...

#2020328 - 01/24/13 01:41 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Tjpp,

Do you have the opportunity to let your son try a number of different pianos within your price range? It would seem that the response of your son, to a given instrument, is the primary consideration.

Originally Posted by Tjpp
I tend to like the warm, smooth sounds rather than the brassy, bright direction.

I would think that your preference in the tonal structure of an instrument would be secondary to what would be best for your son. He might be able to give you all of the information you need in selecting a piano in this price range.

Regards,


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#2020342 - 01/24/13 02:12 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Good point Marty!

#2020368 - 01/24/13 02:39 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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I find Schimmel, Vogel by Schimmel (same components but much cheaper), Kawai K & RX series has the tonal characteristics you described.


PLEYEL P124
#2020645 - 01/24/13 07:37 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: musicpassion]  
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Originally Posted by musicpassion
Here's the concern I have: make sure not to cause further hearing loss.

I would be concerned about the headphones on a digital, as most headphones can be turned loud enough to be an issue for hearing loss.

... I realize each situation is unique, but I just mention this as an encouragement.



Absolutely this! You might want to check in with your son's audiologist too.

Lately I have started noticing vibration of the keys in my fingers playing an acoustic. It is lovely, and never happens with a digital.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2020667 - 01/24/13 08:14 PM Re: Child with hearing loss and piano choice [Re: Tjpp]  
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Originally Posted by Tjpp


One more question for those of you with hearing aids, do you have a program on them for when you are playing piano?


Hey, I have bi lateral hearing aids. I got them 2 years ago after resisting somewhat. My audiologist made a music program for my hearing aids as I was complaining about distortion when I play piano or music in general. This is because the hearing aid is constantly trying to block "excess useless noise" with its EQ... which is great for conversations in a noisy environment, not so great for the subtleties of piano playing. The thing is, when playing the piano with the new music setting on the hearing aids, mine tend to feedback a lot which is rather annoying, so I find myself not using it. Maybe my audiologist has not calibrated them quite right. Im sure if you ask your audiologist, he will be able to help.

I practice at home on an electric piano. With the control of volume, I can usually set it so it does not sound distorted. But obviously you sacrifice the beauty and power of a real piano. When I am teaching on a real piano, which is annoyingly loud at the school I work in, the hearing aids sometimes adjust to the loud volume and not distort so much, or I turn them off.

But it sound like your son has being playing lots of lovely pianos and will be keen to let you know what sounds the best!

The story about the profoundly deaf kids touching the grand piano is beautiful and reminds me of one of my personal heros, Evelyn Glennie.

Peace,
Andrew


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