2023 Conference Presentation Description and Presenters Bios

  1. When NOT to Use Your Hearing Aids to Hear Music with Andrew Bellavia and Dr. Brad Ingrao
  2. Compression in Hearing Devices with Dr. Marshall Chasin
  3. Tinnitus for Musicians with Dr. Melissa Heche
  4. Technical Hacks for Ensemble Music Making with Wendy Cheng and Zoë Nutt

Session Descriptions

Session 1:  When NOT to Use Your Hearing Aids to Hear Music (10 am to 12 pm)
While hearing aids continue to improve their performance for music, the miniature size of the microphones, speakers and proprietary sound processing outside of your control will always be limiting factors to fidelity and accuracy.  In this session Knowles Electronics veteran Andrew Bellavia and audiologist-musician Brad Ingrao will discuss instrument and ensemble-specific solutions using pro and prosumer audio components to capture, modify and hear live and recorded music that may provide superior fidelity and clarity compared to hearing aids.  Dr. Ingrao will also touch briefly on how acoustics can affect musical performers with hearing loss.

Presenter bios: 

Andrew Bellavia is the founder of AuraFuturity, a go-to-market and branding consultancy in the hearing, hearables, and broader communications spaces, with prior experience in international sales, marketing, product management, and general management. He is also a member of the advisory board of Tuned, a groundbreaking resource for delivering holistic hearing care for a variety of hearing conditions and issues. Audio and music have been both of abiding interest and a market he served professionally throughout his career. Andrew’s previous position was with Knowles Corp. in the Hearing Health Tech division where he oversaw their in-ear monitor driver business, working with all the major brands. Through his work at Knowles, Andrew was also personally involved in the creation of many innovative wireless hearable devices from the category’s very beginnings. He has been deeply embedded at the intersection of hearables and hearing health, frequently speaking and writing on developments in these markets. He is also a co-host of Hearing Health & Technology Matters’ This Week in Hearing podcast and is frequently invited as a guest on others. He has appeared in multiple publications including Forbes, Hearing Tracker, and AudioXpress, and has presented at numerous trades shows and conferences including NAMM and CanJam. Andrew has been a strong advocate for hearing care innovation and accessibility, work made more personal when he faced his own hearing loss and sought treatment.

Clinical audiologist Dr. Brad Ingrao  made his first attempt at playing music at age 5, studying piano and violin with his uncle Angelo, a former professional musician.   Fortunately for Angelo, he was nearly deaf, because Brad was terrible!   He had a better start in 4th grade with clarinet, then bass clarinet.  In middle school he switched to oboe, then all four saxophones.  He continued playing until his mid-twenties then laid off until picking up the alto sax in his late 30s. He recently switched to the Aerophone, a digital wind synthesizer which allows him to use over 100 voices to match the sound to the hearing of his audience.

Session 2: Compression in Hearing Devices  (1:30 -2:30  pm EST)
Compression is a setting needed for speech to sound good when wearing hearing devices (hearing aids and cochlear implants), but it needs to be turned off for music to sound good in hearing devices.  Dr. Chasin will explain about the role of compression in the programming of hearing devices and also discuss the various flavors of compression.    

Presenter bio:
Dr. Marshall Chasin is Director of Audiology and Research at the Musicians’ Clinics of Canada, Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (in Linguistics), and Associate Professor in the School of Communication Disorders and Sciences at Western University.    Marshall holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Linguistics from the University of Toronto, a M.Sc. in Audiology and Speech Sciences from the University of British Columbia and his AuD from the Arizona School of Health Sciences.  He is the author of over 200 articles and 8 books including Music and Hearing Aids (Plural Publishing, 2022).  He writes a monthly column in Hearing Review called Back to Basics.  Dr. Chasin has been the recipient of many awards over the years including the 2004 Audiology Foundation of America Professional Leadership Award, the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Award, the 2013 Jos Millar Shield award from the British Society of Audiology and the 2017 Canada 150 Medal. He has developed a mobile app called Temporary Hearing Loss Test (TTS) app.

Session 3: Tinnitus for Musicians  (2:30-3:30 pm EST)
Description: What is Tinnitus?  What treatments have been proven to be especially effective for musicians?  Dr. Heche will present on the topic of tinnitus and then take questions from the audience at the end.

Presenter bio: Melissa Heche, AuD is a dually certified Doctor of Audiology and Speech/Voice Pathologist.  She is the Director of New York Speech and Hearing – a NYC private practice that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of hearing loss, tinnitus, and voice disorders. She received her Doctor of Audiology at Salus University and earned dual Master’s degrees (Speech Pathology/Audiology) at Hofstra University. She holds a CAOHC certificate as a Professional Supervisor in Hearing Conservation and is a certificate holder in Tinnitus Management from the American Board of Audiology. She works in hearing conservation and is a specialist in musician’s hearing healthcare.  She is active with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) organization, and participates in lobbying events promoting music education/early hearing conservation. She is a certified Sound Engineer with experience in live music venue sound systems, an experience that has made her a resource for hearing healthcare in the music industry.  

Dr. Heche is an established public speaker on topics including: vocal health, musician’s hearing healthcare, tinnitus, communication disorders, and business. She has been published in national trade journals, discussing increased access to audiological services, noise induced hearing loss, tinnitus, and musician’s hearing healthcare. 

She is a trained stage performer with a presence in both the cabaret/theatre and rock music circuits. She holds a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre/performance and continues to perform in the metro NY area for small concerts and show runs.

Session 4: Technical Hacks for Ensemble Music Making (3:30-4:30 pm)
Description: Wendy and Zoë are both cochlear implant musicians who participate in musical ensembles.  They will share their hacks for participating in musical ensembles and then invite session attendees to share their own hacks as well as to answer questions.

Presenter bios: Zoë Nutt and Wendy Cheng

Wendy Cheng is the founder of the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss. While dealing with a significant hearing loss which started at age 9 and grew progressively worse by the time she entered college, she also developed a life-long passion for making music. She started piano at age 7, fell into love with orchestral string instruments in high school and began taking violin lessons in college. A new cochlear implant caused her to switch to viola at age 36. Eight years ago she fell in love with the sound of handbells and purchased her own 3-octave set of handbells. She currently directs a small handbell choir for the federal agency where she works.”

Zoë Nutt is a singer-songwriter from East Tennessee. Nutt has dealt with progressive sensorineural hearing loss throughout her life, but has not let that stop her from making music. She uses a hearing aid and cochlear implant to hear. Although hearing loss is a prominent part of her life, she does not let that define her music.

Nutt’s work finds itself meshed between Americana, Blues, Alternative and Country. She studied classical vocal performance, songwriting, and music business in college and now writes and produces her own music. Nutt has no fear when it comes to her latest track “Say”, a powerful anthem that energizes you to be yourself no matter what others think. “Say” was featured on Apple Music’s “Best New Americana Songs” list as well as their “New In Americana” playlist.