Wendy Cheng

Audiological history: My own hearing loss was first diagnosed during at age 9. (My parents think the loss is the result of ototoxic medications administered to me when I was 2 years old.) At the time of diagnosis, the right ear was found to have a profound hearing loss and the left ear had a mild to moderate loss. Over the years, the left ear slowly deteriorated, and then settled down at 70 dB across all frequency ranges. I wore a Phonic Ear BTE (behind the ear) hearing aid in my left ear for many years. In March 1996, I had a viral infection and lost what was left of my hearing. I decided to get a cochlear implant and in January 1997 received a Clarion 1.2 implant in my right ear. In 2008, I decided to go bilateral and received a cochlear implant in my left ear. In 2011, my right implant started failing, and I underwent revision surgery to have a new implant. I currently use two Naida cochlear implants from Advanced Bionics.

Musical studies: My mother had all three girls in our family study classical piano, so I had piano lessons from the age of 7 to 15. Starting in high school, I fell in love with the sound of the violin but no one in my family gave me, a person with a severe hearing loss, much chance of success with this instrument (since the intonation requirements for this instrument is so much higher when compared with the piano). To make a long story short, I finally began violin lessons at the age of 19 as a college sophomore, and haven’t stopped ever since. I’ve participated in string quartets, string and full orchestra workshops. In 2000, I switched over from violin to viola when I realized I did not hear tones above third position on the violin’s E string very well. Over the last two years, I have taken up playing handbells and hand chimes. I current lead a 3-octave handbell ensemble in the federal agency where I work. I also tried voice lessons for a year and discovered that I am a lyric soprano.

My hope is to go as far as I can in making music with violin/viola and handbells—-and perhaps to get a degree in music education someday. I just love making music and learning about music so much, and wish I could do more with this intense interest.

Personal: I have two daughters, Abby and Eileen. Abby is an amateur violinist and Eileen plays cello.

Last updated: June 2017