Selective Hearing, in Life and in Music

Did you ever find yourself in a restaurant or lounge and trying to hear a particular song through all the usual ambient noise. Somehow you managed to get the musical essence you were looking for through all the mayhem, almost as if you were wearing headphones. Two concepts were required to accomplish this.

First, you had to focus on the music you were trying to listen to. And second you probably used a technique called filtering. Just short of closing your eyes, you filtered out all the talking, the clanking of glasses, and as many of the external distractions surrounding you, including your date, with her permission of course.

In the past you may have been accused, by the opposite sex, of having selective hearing as opposed to intentionally filtering out sounds for a specific reason. Actually as true as that may be, there is a hearing problem that most people experience as they grow older. I’m sure there are hearing aids that might compensate for this affliction. Let me explain.

A few months ago, at age 70, I took the opportunity to have my hearing checked. When the test was finished the technician showed me the marked up graph paper. She explained that my hearing dropped off at a certain frequency range. Well low and behold, that range just happens to be the range of the average woman’s voice, hence the ‘you’re ignoring me”complaint. Guilty as charged but not intentional. It’s called high frequency hearing loss.

Since my daughter is an ER doctor, I called her to confirm the tech’s diagnosis and before I finished she chimed in and blurted out “you have trouble hearing women.” After my chuckling subsided a few seconds later, she also told me that she had to have an orderly in the examination room to repeat what she was saying to both old men and women.

That being said, somehow I have retained the ability to focus on music playing relatively softly in a crowded environment. On the other hand, my diminished ability to hear certain frequencies just might enhance my filtering skills when needed……Musically speaking of course. Please don’t wish your life away waiting to go partially deaf just to get some peace and quiet. Remember, Beethoven wrote his best music in the final third of his life without the convenience or the ability to hear his masterpieces externally, but the isolation from the rest of the hearing world must have been torture.

Enjoy your blessings, including the gift of hearing, especially during the holiday season. And use your filtering technique wisely.