Headphones and Hearing Aids

We work with a lot of individuals who have hearing aids. One common questions is, “Will using headphones interfere with my hearing aids?” The answer is, “Maybe.” But, I have done a bit of research and found some of the highest recommended head phones available, and categorized them into 3 types: bone conducting headphones, on-the-ear-headphones, and over-the-ear headphones. Under each of the 3 categories, I’ve listed the types of hearing aids that are best suited for each type of headphone. I hope this is helpful for some of you readers who have hearing aids or have a loved one with hearing aids.

Caution: With any headphones, if you turn the volume up too loud, you can damage your hearing. However, wearing headphones does not necessarily cause hearing loss.

Tips for wearing any type of headphones with hearing aids:

  1. Turn the music down, as the hearing aids will amplify the sound.
  2. You may experience feedback if the headphones are pushing on or sitting too close to the hearing aid. Reposition the hearing aid. If this does not help, those headphones probably aren’t fit for your hearing aids.
  3. You want the music playing in your headphones to be lower than 85 dB if you are listening for an extended period of time.


Headphone Types

  1. Bone Conduction Headphones


Best for: in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids

  • This type of headphone works for conductive hearing loss or unilateral hearing loss, or as long as you have 1 functioning cochlea.

Top products:

  • Top ranking (High Price): AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Open Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones – $130 on Amazon.com
  • Lower price: Vsport® Bone Conduction Multifunctional Waterproof Noise Cancellation Wireless Sport Bluetooth Headphone – $58.00 on Amazon.com
  • Low price (with a wire): Aftershokz Sportz 3 Open Ear Stereo Headphones – $30 on neweggbusiness.com


  • Sound quality is not as good as regular headphones.
  • The band of the headphones may conflict with behind-the-ear hearing aids.




  1. On-ear Headphones


Best for: completely-in-canal (CIC), invisible-in-the-canal (IIC)

Can also be used for: in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids

Top Products:

  • Top ranking: Sentey Headphones $50 on Amazon.com
  • Lower price: AmazonBasics Lightweight On-Ear Headphones – $15 on Amazon.com


  • Feedback is more likely to occur with in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids)


  1. Over-ear Headphones


Best for: in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids

Can also be used for: completely-in-canal (CIC), invisible-in-the-canal (IIC)

Top product:

  • Top ranking: Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones $22.31 on Amazon.com
  • Lower price: JVC HARX500 Full-Size Headphones $21 on Amazon.com


  • Feedback is more likely to occur with in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids)


Additional Tips: For BTE hearing aids and RIC or RITE hearing aids, it is unlikely that you can wear headphones with your hearing aids unless you carefully position very large over-the-ear headphones over your hearing aid. (Note: over-the-ear headphones are sometimes also referred to as “circumaural headphones”)

Do you have wireless hearing aids? Wireless hearing aids can be connected directly to your Bluetooth iPod or iPhone! This means you can turn your hearing aids into you own headphones.

Resource: everydayhearing.com

  • Chiara

Changes Are A’Comin’!

Before starting my internship, I was required to read a book called Who Moved My Cheese – a story about dealing with changes in life. We recently revisited the book and discussed some of the metaphors and lessons in it. This seems fitting, as my internship is almost finished now, and it’s time to start facing the next big life change: entering the professional world.

The book uses cheese as a metaphor the status quo/what makes us feel comfortable/our purpose/our current relationships/etc. Eventually, the cheese is consumed, as cheese is meant to be. We’re then faced with a choice: do we go out looking for new cheese (i.e. do we change with the changes) or do we stay put, mistakenly expecting our old cheese to reappear? Then, if we choose to change with the changes and go out looking for new cheese, what happens when we don’t find it when and where we expect?

I remember when I was first reading this book. I was anticipating starting my internship with the Music Therapy Center, and very grateful that the life change that I had been anticipating for the previous 4 years was finally happening. But the process of getting an internship had not gone as planned at all. In the end, it was clearly for the best. But in the 8 months before being accepted into the internship at MTTCA, as I repeatedly couldn’t find my new cheese, I became discouraged.

I applied to 5 internships initially, and thought for sure someone would offer me cheese! Four rejected me and one discontinued their internship before my application even got to them. My neatly laid out plan and timeline for where and when I would find my much-anticipated new cheese was useless. I had to start the search all over again.

I’m sure glad I didn’t stop looking for my cheese! The next round of 4 applications brought me two cheese (read “internship”) offers, in an area of music therapy I had not originally considered. And as I sit here typing this blog post, I’m filled with overwhelming gratitude for how perfect this cheese has been for me. It has helped me discover and shape my life calling and dream. Not only that, but it has also built in me invaluable skills, given me beautiful friendships, and equipped me to pursue my own potential just as we strive to help our clients pursue theirs.

The moral of this cheese story is that even when you’re anticipating the end of your cheese, there may not be new cheese where you expect it. You have to keep searching, maybe trying new routes and new angles. Maybe try looking for a different type of cheese – maybe you need to look for gouda instead of brie. This moral is a good one to reflect upon as I start looking for my new cheese (read “job”). It may not be where I expect it to be, and it may not be the type of cheese I think it should be. But, just like this internship, it will be exactly what I need.

  • Chiara

Lessons for Unique Learners

Recently we discussed adapted music lessons at one of our symposiums. In preparing for this symposium, I read two articles written by music teachers working with students on the autism spectrum. After reading these articles, I started re-examining my approach when teaching adaptive music lessons. Am I really striving to find out how the student learns best? Am I really letting their strengths shine in our lessons? Am I pushing them to achieve something that isn’t actually feasible at the moment? Am I really offering them an opportunity to enjoy the music, or am I just pushing my agenda?

It was scary asking myself those questions. Some of the answers revealed that I was not actually living out my belief that these students are capable and unique, and that music learning does not have to be this rigid, structured, experience.

So I’ve begun making some changes in my teaching. For example, last week during a lesson, my student was perseverating on one particular part of a song. When I tried to interrupt his playing to make suggestions, he did not seem to hear me. Eventually, he stopped playing. At that point, instead of giving him the suggestions I had planned on giving, I asked him, “What are you thinking about right now? Tell me what’s going on in your head.” Why had it not occurred to me before to get his perspective first??? After all, this lesson is for him and his benefit. Asking him that question gave me insight into his approach to the piece we were working on. It lead to a different method of teaching the song.

The student in this example is very high functioning on the spectrum and has the appropriate language skills for expressing his thoughts and feelings. Of course, it becomes more complicated to gain insight into a student’s thought process when they don’t have the language skills. But, I’ll deal with that when the time comes. For now, I’m grateful for this change in perspective, for my students’ sakes!

  • Chiara

Introducing Brandon

20160911_195501Brandon is currently completing his Bachelor of Arts in Music Therapy from California State University Northridge (CSUN). His primary instrument is alto saxophone and he also enjoys playing flute, guitar, and hand drums. Prior to studying at CSUN, Brandon worked as a Rehabilitation Instructor at United Cerebral Palsy, and then as a 1:1 Instructor at The Learning Academy, a non-public school at T.E.R.I. Inc. in Oceanside. During this time, Brandon worked with individuals aged 6-22 who have behavioral and learning challenges. At CSUN, Brandon’s practicum experiences included working with medically fragile children, individuals with autism and cerebral palsy, adults with developmental delays, and adults with chemical dependency.