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Blue O’Connell’s Story

June 11th, 2011 by | Tags: , | Comments Off

The woman behind the music of the History of Pediatric Cochlear Implantation video clip, Blue O’Connell shares her story of her journey to hearing with cochlear implants as a musician.

Being a successful professional musician makes me a living example that dispels the stereotype and myths so commonly associated with people with a severe hearing loss.

Many years ago I had a good friend who was studying composition at Northwestern University. He invited me over one night to hear his latest piece on the keyboard.  After waiting for what seemed a long time, I finally asked, “When are you going to play me your new song?” He looked stunned and answered, “I just did—didn’t you hear it?”  I didn’t. That was how I learned that I had a severe hearing loss. I was 25 years old. For years I was able to hear well enough with hearing aids but over the years my hearing continued to worsen. Finally, it was suggested that I undergo surgery for a cochlear implant.

In January, 2009, I had cochlear implant surgery(nucleus freedom) for my left ear and received a new digital hearing aid for my right ear (Phonak). Since then, I have begun giving educational presentations to classrooms and groups, which focus on creating awareness on hearing loss. Being a successful professional musician makes me a living example that dispels the stereotype and myths so commonly associated with people with a severe hearing loss.

In the photo, here I am playing some music for a class after my CI demonstration.

Since there is so much media interest now about the cochlear implant, many people are interested to know what it is like to learn to hear again with a bionic ear. I spent months using customized aural rehabilitative techniques to help create new pathways in my brain to process sound anew. All the while, I kept at my music even though it did sound very strange in the beginning!

I am a professional musician and Certified Music Practitioner. (see MHTP.org for more info) I am employed at the University of Virginia Hospital and play therapuetic music for patients.I also play for groups of people with developmental disabilites and eldery. I love my work!

I have a website about my work:

www.blueoconnell.com

I have a YouTube video too:

(Music playing; No speech in the video.)

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