June 23, 2014
Interview with Wendy Cheng, Founder The Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss
Carolyn Smaka: Welcome, Wendy. Before we get in to the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss (AAMHL), tell me about your background and some of the experiences that led you to start this organization.
Wendy Cheng: I’m an adult music student, and I use bilateral cochlear implants. I’ve studied piano, violin and viola, and currently the viola is my primary instrument. I try to put an hour of practice on my viola each day and I have lesson every other week. I doubt I’ll ever becoming a professional on the viola due to the high intonation requirements needed to get to that level, but I dearly love playing the viola. I’m currently preparing for the level 5 exam given by theAmerican String Teachers Association (ASTA) in early June.
Depending on how successful I am in completing the required aural ear training sequence requires of music majors at the undergraduate level, I may pursue a music degree one day. Cochlear implant companies do not promote systematic ear training for musical pitch perception so this could get interesting.
Carolyn: At what age were you diagnosed with hearing loss and how did it impact your music?
Wendy: My mother started me on piano lessons at the age of seven. Two years later, my hearing loss (profound on the right ear, mild on the left ear) was discovered during a routine hearing screening in the local neighborhood school. I was fitted with a behind the ear hearing aid in the left ear throughout grade school.
No one around me had much experience working with a hearing impaired music student when I was growing up. I grew up not receiving a lot of encouragement to pursue music outside of piano lessons (a solitary activity). In hindsight, this was unfortunate because I gravitated more toward aural music than any other activity in my adolescent years.