Sunday, January 10, 2010

Use it or Lose it

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I used to be an amazing lipreader.

When I was in elementary school, kids would take turns silently mouthing things to me, and I almost always got it right. My best friend and I were able to have silent conversations across the room. Of course, they were one way conversations, since she could never understand what I said back.

With my hearing aids off, I could communicate with my family pretty well when I could see their mouth.

Ever since I've gone bilateral, my lip/speechreading skills have become absolutely pitiful.

If my sister wants to tell me something while my implants are off, it usually involves exaggeration of lip movements, some fingerspelling, and grand gestures. It becomes a frustrating game of charades.

I still benefit from seeing someone's mouth when they're talking, but without audio cues, it becomes really hard. It also becomes painfully obvious when I need a mapping, since I can't exactly get much out of lip reading.

Guess it goes to show how much less I rely on it.. It's pretty interesting. Anyone else have the same experience?

On a completely unrelated note...

I now have my learner's permit! :)
I took driver's ed over the summer, but I couldn't take my permit test until I turned fifteen. When I finally did, life got in the way, and I just didn't get around to it (until now).

On the last day of winter break, my driver's ed place finally opened (they had been closed for two weeks). My mom dragged me down there, with me complaining the entire ride that I was going to fail the stupid test. Half the people who take it fail on the first try, and I'd barely gotten to study. It didn't help that I hadn't learned a SINGLE thing in Driver's Ed.

After grading my test, the lady told me I scored the highest on the rules portion she's ever seen anyone make since she's worked there. Heh. So much for failing...


  1. Love your blog! And thanks so much for leaving a comment at mine (Orange). I play/played the violin, too -- although I confess I haven't picked it up in ages now. I'm hoping to start my son on violin lessons when he's three or four (I started when I was four). How well do you hear different pitches with your CIs? Do you ever have a problem following melody? Does music sound different/worse/better than before CIs? What kind of music do you like to listen to?

  2. Thanks for the comment, Julia! I really wish I had started the violin when I was younger. I played piano for a year or two when I was in preschool, but then gave it up because I wanted to sign up for some sport at the same time. I soon learned that sports are not my thing, but playing the piano was a good experience for me.

    I think I can hear the different pitches fairly well. One thing my late violin teacher was working on with me was relying more on what I heard and less on looking at the placement of my fingers. It was a habit I got into with my hearing aids, since there were some notes I couldn't hear at all. I've become a lot better at tuning by ear, but when I'm home I use my tuner that tells me if the note is in tune or not (it's my security blanket :))

    I do occasionally have problems following the melody, but I wouldn't say it's any more than a violin player with my level of experience. I find that when I listen to a piece that I've learned and played, I have a much greater appreciation and am able to notice patterns more easily than if it's a piece I'm not familiar with.

    Music sounds different, and much better with my CIs. I found that with hearing aids, I liked music, but there was still a small amount of distortion (not so much with the violin, but more with music in general). With the violin in particular, pre-CI days I would feel like I was in a bubble when I played. I would always hope to be a couple of rows back so I could see the direction of other bows moving, and I just always felt like I was working hard to keep up- between looking at the music, my fingers, the conductor, and the other players, it got pretty confusing!

    My first CI was in my right ear, which allowed me to hear other people playing, but I still had trouble hearing myself play since the violin sits on your left side. I found that going bilateral has increased my appreciation for music tremendously, even though I did get a pretty good amount of benefit from hearing aids. I can hear more of the subtleties that I wouldn't have otherwise realized were there.

    I like a pretty wide range of music- from country, to pop, to soft rock. I like classical music too- going to listen to the local Symphony 6 months after my CI was an amazing experience! Some of my favorite musical artists are The Fray, Five for Fighting, Kings of Leon, O.A.R, Reliant K, Colbie Caillat and Taylor Swift, to name a few of the modern ones.

    One last thing- I have a friend who has a CI and a hearing aid. She played violin for a year but found that the E string was too painful and switched to the viola. To me, it would seem like a mapping problem rather than a problem with the instrument itself, but she is much happier now that she's playing the viola. So, just keep all of your options open.

    *Whew!* Sorry, that got a little lengthy!

  3. Viola?!? Well, I suppose -- although I've been plied with so many anti-viola jokes over the years that I'd have to overcome a prejudice! (Just kidding.) Thanks for responding to my questions -- very helpful and interesting.

  4. Haha! Glad to help, let me know if you have any other questions.

    And this is my favorite one:
    How do you keep a violin from getting stolen?
    You put it in a viola case :)

  5. Really? I know I talked to you a little bit about lip reading before but its funny, if I have my implant off, I can lip read pretty well. If I have it on, lip reading can help fill in something I missed but I can't do it as well Although I can still do it better than other people... lol comes with the's probably that whole when one sense is turned off, the others work harder thing
    me: er, I thought it was pretty simple to understand.... :P)


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