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Music to My Ears

August 11th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Many CI candidates (or their parents) worry about the ability to enjoy music through their electronic “ears”.  Like anything, appreciating music with cochlear implants (or hearing aids) is a process that requires appropriate expectations and lots of practice.  Here are some resources to help you optimize your music listening experience with your CIs.

In "Ellie's Ears", Ellie, a cochlear implant user, listens to an MP3 player using a direct connect cable to one of her processors. (Illustration from "Ellie's Ears" by Rachel Chaikof)

How can I use headphones with my CI(s)?

Some CI companies offer “direct connect” cables which plug into your CI processor directly from the sound source (MP3 player, stereo, etc.).  Others have earhooks designed for in-the-ear headphone use.  All CIs and HAs can be used with over-the-ear headphones placed over the microphone(s).  In THIS post, you can see Rachel looping regular iPod earbuds around her processors so that they “hit” her mics to deliver music to her ears.  You can also use Music Links to induce the t-coil setting on your CI/HA.  These “skeleton” earhooks fit like behind your processor(s) and plug into a music player like regular headphones.  They are available in both unilateral and bilateral models.

What are some tips for listening to music with my CI(s)?

In “Music and Implants: Piecing the Puzzle Together”, Dr. Kate Gfeller explains the many factors that can impact each individual CI user’s experience with music (re)habilitation.  She suggests optimizing the listening environment (quiet, good headphones or other player-to-CI connection) and choosing simple, familiar music at first and moving up to more complex, challenging pieces.  This eLearning Library has many wonderful recorded seminars on the topic of “Bringing Music to Life”.  Unfortunately, they do not come with transcripts, but may be helpful for hearing parents of children with CIs or professionals (or advanced CI listeners who are up to the challenge!).  This “Turn the Music Onguide shows different accessories that can be used with CI processors for listening to music (see page 2).  Talk to your audiologist about specific programming changes s/he can make to optimize your MAP for music listening.  Click HERE to access all of the past Cochlear Implant Online posts about music.

Where can I practice listening to music with my CI(s) online?

Try to identify the Instruments of the Orchestra by sound with four answer choices.  Then, move on to identifying different instruments without choices, different music styles, and popular tunes in these Music Appreciation Exercises.  Download lyrics to songs in your iTunes library and match the words to what you hear using applications like GimmeSomeTune.  You can also find many popular music videos with lyrics on YouTube.

Written by

Elizabeth Rosenzweig MS CCC-SLP LSLS Cert. AVT is a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist. She provides auditory verbal therapy, aural rehabilitation, IEP advocacy, consultation, and LSLS mentoring for clients around the world via teletherapy. You can learn more about Elizabeth's services on her Website or Facebook.


mike pearcy

February 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Thank you. This website looks great. My CI is 4 months old and I just love it. I can hear children and my love of music has returned. I am astounded at how great music sounds to me already and am so ready to do anythiing to even improve a wonderful situation. I would live to communicate with with CI users also. I am eager to explore the information in this site. thanks again Mike Pearcy


February 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Welcome, Mike. I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying life with your CI. If you’d like to connect with other CI users, I encourage you to “like” our Facebook fan page ( and join the conversation! Happy Hearing!

February 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm

[...] HERE is a previous CIO post with lots of links to music practice online. [...]