American Academy of Audiology Foundation (AAAF) Board of Trustees Chair, Lisa Vaughan, AuD, was joined by Michael Santucci, AuD, to discuss the Music and Hearing Research Grant Program. Dr. Santucci is an AAAF donor and benefactor of the grant program; we sincerely thank him for his generosity.
Learn more about the grant program; interested researchers should apply by July 29!
Lisa Vaughan: On behalf of the American Academy of Audiology Foundation, I’m excited to share some information on one of our grants with everyone. I’m joined by Michael Santucci to discuss the Music and Hearing Research Grant Program. As many of you know. Dr. Santucci is the founder of Sensaphonics, an overall great audiologist, and one of my favorite people.
For those of you who are new to this grant from the Foundation, the Music and Hearing Research Grant awards up to $10,000 to support research studies that will shape best practice and benefit musicians and others who work in the music industry.
Michael Santucci: It is great pleasure to be here to get some people interested in getting our grant money and doing something with it.
Lisa Vaughan: I know! I’m excited! Tell us a little bit about how you started your career path and develop this passion for music.
Michael Santucci: It is a long story. I came from a family of musicians. My dad had his own big band, everybody in my family. We were all playing instruments. Our house was full of music…all day, every day! And in high school, I was in a few little bands. But by the time I became an audiologist, I wasn’t really doing a lot of music. However, I knew a lot of musicians. I had a band come to me and tell me that the singer was going to quit because her tinnitus was getting bad.
They asked me to help and I told them to put on some foam ear plugs, because that’s all that was available. They said, “Have you ever tried playing with them?” I said, “no.” Then I put on my foam ear plugs and I was like, “Wow, this sounds horrible!” So, I did some research with local recording studios. I found out that they all wiped out the high end and tried to develop some products.
But then, back in 1989, a friend of mine came to me and said, “I understand you’re trying to work with musicians.” I have this product. It is, we all know, as the etymotic products. And I was a beta tested for those, which is how the path started. I started a musician’s hearing clinic. It is still the only brick and mortar musicians hearing clinic in the world. We’ve seen over 40,000 musicians from all disciplines.
And then I made my first in earmonitor for the Grateful Dead in 1992. So that’s kind of the career path and where the passion comes from.
Lisa Vaughan: That’s amazing! So, what motivated you to start the Music and Hearing Research Grant program?
Michael Santucci: I was on the Foundation Board and I was asked if it would be possible to get musicians to sign something to donate for the Foundation auction at the Academy Annual Conference.
I bought a fender guitar and showed up at a show to get signatures. I told them the money was going to research on music and hearing. I was able to get Aerosmith, Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, and John Bon Jovi! Just a bunch of famous, famous people that would sign. And we auctioned those guitars off at the AAA Annual Conference and raised close to $50,000. Now that concerts are back again, I need to get out there and start getting more guitars signed!
But that was kind of how this all got going. I wanted the money to be earmarked for research on music because nobody was doing it.
I developed the consensus document, Audiological Services for Musicians and Music Industry Personnel, and shared it. This consensus document is a review of best practices, but they couldn’t call it “a guideline” because there wasn’t enough evidence basis to call it “a guideline.” Now it is a consensus document of experts and so this topic really needs more research.
Lisa Vaughan: It does! What do you want to see come out with this program?
Michael Santucci: You know, I think that for the $10,000 award, it is really seed money for studies to encourage and an opportunity for someone to get more research started on this topic.
There was a study funded by the Music and Hearing Research Grant Program, Facilitating and Measuring the Output and Isolation of In-Ear Monitors in Audiology, that Drs. Heather Malik and Alex Meibos studied.
They looked at isolation claims from in ear-monitor companies and actually measured them to see how they were not really accurate. Also, maximum power output (MPO) for in ear monitors. This is information that both audiologists and musicians really need to hear.
I do not want to see another study on a university orchestra because we’ve had tons of those. I understand that is easy if you’ve got an audiology department and a music department. There has been enough done with that. I’m really looking for things that are new and helpful to musicians.
Lisa Vaughan: I like it. I bet we have somebody who wants to do that.
Michael Santucci: At least I hope we do! And I hope that we see lots of people apply for this new grant. I’m very excited about it.
Lisa Vaughan: Is there anything else you want to add?
Michael Santucci: Come on, all you audiologist, get out there and give some research. Musicians are fun to research!
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