October 2, 2020School of Design Plays Role in Hearing Protection Initiative
October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, and our college is playing a significant role in an important program to raise awareness of hearing protection with students in UT’s School of Music.
By Brian Canever
Carolyn Gahan noticed the ringing in her ears one night after leaving a concert. It was normal for her ears to ring occasionally. A junior vocal performance major from Knoxville, Gahan spends most of her time around music, whether at concerts, in studios, or while doing her homework.
“Half of my assignments are to listen to music,” says Gahan, a soprano in the Chamber Singers. “My ears are a part of my job.”
Hearing loss was not a concern for Gahan until, in her first year at UT, she received a School of Music notification of a mandatory screening with the UT Health Science Center’s Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology.
Gahan went and received good news: no hearing damage detected. Her result was the same when she was screened again this past fall as a sophomore.
“I assumed the screenings were just a requirement for all UT music majors,” Gahan says.
The required screenings actually date back to just 2018, when Denise Descouzis, who completed a master’s degree in audiology from UT in 1978 and practiced professionally for nearly four decades in Texas, created the Dave Lipscomb Hearing Conservation Fund to increase awareness of hearing damage among UT’s music students.
In two years, the project has flourished as a partnership between the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology and the School of Music and supported by students in the School of Design. In addition to helping individual students, the project is working to measure the impact of noise exposure on music students over the course of their time at UT.