Keeping the Beat…an idea for musicians with hearing loss.


When I was a child, I took piano lessons and had to endure performing in recitals.  I did not enjoy this very much, perhaps because I was not cut out to handle to rigors of the Royal Conservatory of Music.  Or maybe I just sucked at piano.  However, playing in a recital is a solo endeavour, so if I was not keeping proper time, no one else suffered (except perhaps the ears of the poor parents in the audience).

Later I took acoustic guitar lessons and strummed and sang some songs.  Once again, it was just me playing, so keeping the beat was not as important.

When I was in high school, I played trumpet in the high school band.  I relied on the conductor to ensure that I was keeping tempo and playing in the right spot.

Currently, I play in a mid-life crises rock band called ‘Below the Belt”.  Its just four of us…a drummer, guitarist, vocalist, and myself on bass guitar.  I quickly learned how fatal timing errors can be.  If we are all not in the same spot, we sound like donkey poop.

I have difficulty hearing the kick drum of the drummer when playing live music.  If I try to move closer to the drum kit, all I hear is the crash and ride cymbals and nothing else.  Snare drum is easier to hear, but as a bass player I am required to be “locked in” with the kick drum.

So upon the suggestion of a colleague from Switzerland, I created a platform to stand on.  It consists of the following components:

  • Microphone on kick drum
  • XLR cable
  • Microphone Pre-amp
  • Subwoofer amplifier
  • Bass Shaker
  • Plywood platform to stand on

So basically what happens, is that the microphone picks up the sound of the kick drum and causes my platform to shake.  I feel the kick drum through the soles of my shoes.

I obtained the microphone, XLR cable, and pre-amp from a music store (Long and McQuade inCanada).  The subwoofer amplifier and bass shaker were obtained from Parts Express in the United States.

Note that I am hesitant to give you the exact part numbers.  To build such a device, you need to understand power, watts, speaker impedance, series vs parallel wiring.  Failure to do so could cause an accident, and I don’t want to be responsible for that.  If you don’t know how to build such a device, get some expert help before proceeding.

Now that I made that disclaimer, I can tell you that it has been a great help for me.  My band mates tell me that I play much “tighter” with this unit.  Any musician or singer who stands can use this.  I can see this being used with a musician who sits down as well, such as a piano player, by attaching it into the chair.

Here are some pictures of my band and the platform I use.

These are my Band Mates

This is the platform I stand on which doubles as my pedal board as well.

This is the bass shaker underneath the platform.

In an upcoming post, I will show you what I do to hear better while playing live music.

Rock on!

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6 thoughts on “Keeping the Beat…an idea for musicians with hearing loss.

  1. Great to see the band finally. Look forward to hearing this tight unit. And checking out the Gear, you know I loves me the technology!

  2. Pingback: Best and Worst Musical Instruments for People with Hearing Loss | Deafened But Not Silent.

  3. Pingback: Behind The Scenes with a Deafened Rock Star. | Deafened But Not Silent.

  4. Pingback: Amie, Bass Guitars, and Good Health. | Deafened But Not Silent.

  5. Pingback: Things to be Thankful for… | Deafened But Not Silent.

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