Saturday, May 29, 2010

a big mush of information

Remember how I said that I'm occasionally indecisive?
Well, I wasn't lying! I still have an announcement, just not the original one that I had planned.

So, recently I had time to do some reflecting. And, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the right choice. I'm giving up orchestra.

Don't get me wrong- I've enjoyed it these past four years. I've learned so much about music, and I have no doubt that playing the violin has allowed me to have an even greater appreciation for music.

And yet..
 It's been a bit of a love/hate relationship. While I enjoy playing it, I'm not particularly gifted at it. In addition to not feeling like I'm progressing, I also tried to think of the benefits of staying in orchestra. Last year, I had to write a plan of the classes I would take throughout my four years of high school, to see how I would get all of my credits in. I only had enough room to take orchestra the first two years of high school. That would mean, more than likely, that I'd be quitting after next year. The violin just isn't something I can see myself doing throughout my adulthood. It's more of a hobby than a passion. And, yes, it does look good to colleges if you stick with a musical instrument.

I recently did some reflecting on that too. When it came time to signing up for classes for next year, many of my friends decided to sign up for an AP elective class, almost exclusively for the GPA credit/points. I thought about it, and I figured a lower GPA is worth having a social life (and sleep, for that matter). I'm still taking plenty of challenging classes, just not bogging myself down with them. I decided to take a class (which is supposedly quite easy, but very interesting) about medical science, which is something I'm very interested in. I had no doubt about sticking with French, of course.

So that left me with one more elective class. At the time, I signed up for orchestra. I changed my mind a few weeks ago, and that was when I began the frantic search for another class to take in its place.

Well, I was going to tell you that I was taking sign language instead. That, make no mistake, it wasn't some symbolic gesture of me trading in music for ASL. I was going to say that I can't give my opinion about a language, a culture, that I've never truly experienced. An exciting adventure, to try something new.

And then..
I went to talk to my counselor. I explained everything, and told her that I felt ASL was pretty much the only other alternative class I could take. She asked me if there was anything else I was really interested in.

I told her how I love to write, and I really wanted to take yearbook. I was disappointed how I made my decision too late, seeing as the deadline to apply was nearly a month ago. Well some emails, a few rushed references, and an interview later...

I will be on my high school's 2010-2011 yearbook staff :)

And, for what it's worth, I just might consider taking violin lessons outside of school. It's still an option, and I've yet to completely decide. Also, this doesn't mean I won't ever take ASL...just not this year.

....I wonder if I should change the blog name?


  1. just saying hey! it's been 1 year since my CI turn on

  2. Being a member of the yearbook staff sounds like a great fit for you. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

    Hope you have a great summer - look forward to reading more of your blog entries on your summer job!


  3. Keep the blog name, it's definately you! Looks like you've had to make a lot of hard decision, like you I find it hard to make decisions and I'm still deciding some of them...

    Yearbook would be great!! From your description on CC, it makes me wish I had one!! Take Care!

  4. This reminded me of when I decided to quit piano lessons my senior year of high school. I'm no Mozart and it was giving me major stress to try to keep getting better. I play adequately for my own entertainment and I'm glad I had those lessons but it was never going to be a career for me.

    There are so many activities and so little time. You have to be pretty selective.

  5. Running across this blog entry of yours, I saw something you're doing that might not quite be in your best interest when it comes to training your brain to understand speech in noise: You're dropping out of the school orchestra.

    Normally, I don't say anything about things .NOT. pertaining to hearing & deafness issues (i.e. boyfriends, family stuff, braces, vacations, etc.), but as it turns out, there has always been a suspicion that music appreciation ties into speech perception in noise. Legendary audiology professor Dr Mark Ross -- Who got his CI at age 83 a couple years ago -- has been stressing this link for years.

    And when Dr Ross talks, we hearing impaired should pay close attention. He also writes a column for the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine, published by HLAA:

    However, in the last year, with advances in brain imaging, the connection between speech discrim in noise and music appreciation has been proven by research at Northwestern University; and with it occuring lower down, in the brainstem, than first believed. Here is the article on these very findings:


    ScienceDaily (Feb. 22, 2010) — At a Feb. 20 press briefing held during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, a Northwestern University neuroscientist argued that music training has profound effects that shape the sensory system and should be a mainstay of K-12 education.

    "Playing an instrument may help youngsters better process speech in noisy classrooms and more accurately interpret the nuances of language that are conveyed by subtle changes in the human voice," says Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Communication Sciences at Northwestern University.

    "Cash-strapped school districts are making a mistake when they cut music from the K-12 curriculum," says Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory in Northwestern's School of Communication.

    Kraus presented her own research and the research of other neuroscientists suggesting music education can be an effective strategy in helping typically developing children as well as children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately encode speech.

    "People's hearing systems are fine-tuned by the experiences they've had with sound throughout their lives," says Kraus. "Music training is not only beneficial for processing music stimuli. We've found that years of music training may also improve how sounds are processed for language and emotion."

    [Balance of article cut to meet size limit]


    You can see more articles on the connection between music & speech processing in noise with this google search:

    So, the Cliff Notes version of what I'm suggesting is that regardless of whether it's in an orchestra, string quartet, jazz ensemble, chamber orchestra, or whatever -- Don't back off on your violin playing, as it's helping your brain deal with your (new electrical) hearing in ways you aren't expecting.~

    Dan Schwartz
    Editor, The Hearing Blog


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