The 2018 Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss (AAMHL) web conference, Coping with Hearing Loss: Strategies for Musical People, will be held on November 17, 2018, 2:00-3:30 pm EST. Please click below to register for the event:

Registration link:

Sponsored by: StenoKnight CART Services


Hearing loss is a debilitating condition that creates stigma and immense stress, especially if you are a professional or even an amateur musician. In our 2018 web conference, we take a look at ways of developing coping strategies for the emotional journey of living with hearing loss and the many stresses it brings. AAMHL is extremely pleased to have two presenters with strong musical backgrounds share their stories and their strategies.

Pianist Pat Dobbs will share her own story of losing her hearing after a very musical upbringing, and how she eventually developed the Hearing Loss Evolution and its Nine Guiding Principles as a way of assisting others on their hearing loss journey.

As she began losing her hearing, string bassist Gaelen McCormick was often overwhelmed and resentful of what was happening to her. But she had been taking classes in meditation and her instructors patiently supported her transformation as a late-deafened adult who happens to be a musician. She learned to use the simple actions of watching and counting breaths to center herself and regain control. Her presentation will offer some very basic elements of mindfulness and practical ways to apply them in everyday life.

This event will have real-time captioning and the registration fee is $25 per person. It officially begins at 1 and ends at 2:30, but the Zoom conference link will have starting and ending times with a 30-minute window to give attendees time to get used to the software interface and additional time for post-conference discussion.

About our presenters:

Pat Dobbs grew up in a musical home. She took piano lessons, played duets with her father and sister, and shared lively discussions about music with her family. She loved the piano dearly and graduated from Ithaca College with a focus on music

She started losing her hearing in her early 20s. As her hearing loss progressed, playing the piano became less enjoyable. When she got her cochlear implant music sounded like tin and she never wanted to play the piano again.

As her hearing loss progressed she hid her hearing from people as she accepted the negative stereotypes of hearing loss. Today she jokes that she became the world’s greatest bluffer by pretending to hear when she didn’t, She didn’t speak up for herself and as a consequence slowly started to drop out of social situations, becoming isolated and depressed.

She wished she had understood that hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of. It is simply hearing loss and nothing more—no loss of IQ or loss of interest in life. But that understanding only came years later and with the support of her friends and family.

She founded and is current president of HLAA-Morris County, and trustee of HLAA-NJ (Hearing Loss Association of America, New Jersey state association). In addition, she started the Hearing Loss Evolution and its Nine Guiding Principles where she provides workshops and one-on-one coaching with the goal of educating people with hearing loss and also their communication partners. She can be contacted for coaching and speaking services through her website:

As far as playing the piano, with encouragement from Wendy Cheng and the AAMHL, she started to play the piano again. She also joined a choir—not that she has a great voice but she knows that the more she sings and listens to music, the more she’ll enjoy music. What she has learned is that the more she exposes herself to music, the more she enjoys music and to her, that’s a joy.


Gaelen McCormick was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic’s double bass section from 1995-2017. Shortly after finishing her graduate degree in double bass performance in 2004, she was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease unilaterally. The next 10+ years were an ever-changing landscape of hearing loss, distortion, vertigo, unpredictable balance, and the pursuit of an onstage career. The stress associated with trying to hide the hearing loss in a VERY hearing-oriented occupation led to Gaelen searching for alternative careers and alternative ways to deal with anxiety. During this period she began meditating and learning more about mindfulness and the brain’s plasticity. In 2018, she was implanted with a cochlear implant for single-sided deafness, and has seen the effects of neuroplasticity at work as she learns to use this device to its fullest potential.

Teaching students of all ages has been a significant part of McCormick’s life. She is a faculty member of the Eastman Community Music School. Through the Arts Leadership Program at the Eastman School of Music, she teaches career skills for use on- and off-stage. Since 2014, she has been organizing and teaching the Rochester Bass Retreat, a workshop for all ages of players. She is a regular clinician at the NYSSMA Winter Conference. Her double bass bow pedagogy series, Mastering the Bow, is published by Carl Fischer. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists, and is the editor of their Bass World magazine’s teaching column.

Since losing her hearing, McCormick has forged a new career path as a composer, arranger, executive director of Canandaigua LakeMusic Festival, and is the inaugural program manager for the developing center for performing arts medicine at the University of Rochester. She is grateful that her abilities as a musician have shaped the way her new career path is taking flight.

Source: AAHML

Images: AAHML