“Then nine months after my first ear was implanted, I heard a melody for the first time.”

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My sister and brother-in-law drove to attend my recital, and my sister kindly took my cell phone and recorded my performance which took six and a half minutes with the three different songs that I played. I got a, a big clap when I finished.

And then my teacher stood up, and she asked me to share briefly with the audience some major facts about my musical journey. That gave me the opportunity to tell them that I went slowly deaf until I was almost completely deaf. And I decided to get cochlear implants. The implantation of my first ear was so successful that I was overjoyed, and I decided to get my second ear implanted because then I would be able to hear out of both sides of my head.

I was warned by my surgeon that the cochlear implant device is only a speech processor. It only covers the frequencies that are within the range of the human voice, but the piano with 88 keys has some keys that are much above the range of the human voice, and also keys that are much below the range of the human voice. And he warned to make my decision carefully about implanting the second ear because I might never get music back. It was an agonizing decision, but ultimately, I decided to go ahead and get the second ear implanted. The thing that swung my decision was the fact that, as my sister pointed out to me as I tried to discuss this with her, human relationships are the most important thing. If I have to give up music in order to hear the human voice better, then so be it. Because human relationships will connect me to the world and prevent me from becoming socially isolated.

So I went ahead with the second implantation. Then nine months after my first ear was implanted, I heard a melody for the first time. Previously, between surgery and that date nine months later, I listened to music, but it was all just a jumble of sounds that did not mean anything to me. But then nine months after the first operation, my brain had grown enough neural pathways that I was able to assimilate the sounds of music and perceive a pattern, a melody. So I felt that I was one of the lucky ones. I got back both speech and music.

And I told the audience that is why I feel such a connection with Beethoven. Like me, Beethoven was profoundly deaf. Unlike Beethoven, I am lucky enough to live in a society that has some medical technology that can implant the inner ears and stimulate my auditory nerves once more, so that I can recapture speech and music.

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