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'It's just a different dimension': Music therapists' experiences of hearing loss

Cole, Sara; Warner, Catherine

'It's just a different dimension': Music therapists' experiences of hearing loss Thumbnail


Sara Cole


This study explores the lived experiences of qualified music therapists who identify as having hearing loss. The risk of hearing loss for professional musicians is widely acknowledged in literature, with one study demonstrating an increased risk of hearing loss for music therapists. No current literature, however, explores the experiences of hearing loss from the perspective of the music therapist, in a profession in which hearing and listening could be seen as central to the work. For this study, qualitative research methods were employed, involving semi-structured interviews with six music therapists experiencing different levels of hearing loss. Verbatim transcripts were then analysed, using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), resulting in the identification of three principal themes across the data set: 1) Listening is exhausting: Identity as a music therapist with hearing loss; 2) Impatient or intrigued? Stigma versus support; and 3) How I manage: Strategies for coping. These themes are discussed in-depth, in light of existing theory and implications for practice. The analysis supports existing research demonstrating that acquired hearing loss does not impede musical ability. Barriers to proficiency arise from other areas. Implications are discussed, including recommendations for hearing-protection training within music therapy training programmes.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 10, 2020
Publication Date Oct 5, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 21, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 23, 2023
Journal An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy
Electronic ISSN 2459-3338
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2
Series ISSN 2459-3338
Keywords hearing loss; music therapy; identity; stigma; hearing protection; musicians' health
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