From day one, Pete has overcome adversity. Born with Goldenhar syndrome, single-sided deafness and other birth defects, Pete has chosen a path of courage over fear. With a combination of musical talent and a Baha® 6 Max Sound Processor, he’s thriving in the music world and in life.
Hi Pete, how are things going?
You know, between music and social media and doing live shows and rehearsals, it’s been really fun recently.
Are you performing a lot?
It slows down a little bit this time of year and picks up again in the summer with outdoor gigs and stuff. We’re getting ready to do a show at a local high school fundraiser this Saturday. That’ll be a lot of fun and cool.
How old were you when you first picked up a guitar?
I was 15 years old. I was a freshman in high school, it was an interesting point in my life because in between 8th grade and freshman year we moved from Michigan to Illinois. I started playing guitar to help me relax a little bit and get used to everything. Music was a big crutch and as time went by, I started to lean a little bit more into it, playing rock’n’roll riffs and some of the blues stuff. In a sense, it was out of curiosity. I like the guitar–it sounds really cool and I had seen some live shows with people up on stage playing, and also some videos of concerts. My dad played when he was in high school, so he had a guitar and an amp. I just started noodling around on that, went on YouTube® and watched videos, trying to teach myself chords and some basic songs. I’ve been obsessed ever since. It’s been great.
How did you get so good at guitar so quickly?
You know, it kind of instantly became an obsession. If I don’t have one in my hands, I’m constantly thinking about it or listening to music or looking up stuff about music. And every chance I get, I’m practicing and playing.
Did you explore the Baha System to help with playing guitar?
It’s actually really interesting. I got my Baha Sound Processor a couple of months after I started playing guitar. I was already trying out the Baha Softband to determine if it was right for me. I wasn’t necessarily looking for help with hearing the guitar, but really just trying to hear what I was missing on my non-hearing side. It is cool that the timing of me starting to play guitar and getting the Baha was right around the same time. Now that I’ve had the Baha for few years, I can say it’s an awesome help with hearing everything.
Do you stream to the Baha Sound Processor while you’re playing or listening to music?
I love the streaming feature. I always joke that the main thing that sold me on the Baha Sound Processor wasn’t the fact that it could help me hear, it was the streaming feature with music. You know, in high school, I may or may not have been paying attention in class but there’s a really good chance I was streaming music. I found out the hard way that you could take phone calls with it. I was at school streaming music, and I forgot to disconnect from the app and turn my phone volume down. That day, I was in class, being a good student sitting at my desk doing my work, and my ringtone goes off. It was Welcome to the Jungle from Guns N’ Roses at full volume, blasting into the quiet classroom. Of course, being the rock n roll guy in the class everybody looked my way because they knew it was me. I looked at who was calling me in the middle of class–it was spam. So, that was embarrassing, but I learned to stream phone calls straight to the Baha after that.
What’s the biggest difference going from the Baha 5 Sound Processor to the Baha 6 Max Sound Processor?
The first thing I noticed is the sound processor is smaller. It blends into my hair a little bit better and doesn’t stick out as much. And the battery1 lasts a lot longer, so that’s pretty cool. In the Baha Smart App2, I noticed there is a lot more stuff to choose from. You can turn the volume down and I have a program setting for background noise reduction, which I like using a lot. You can even adjust the bass and treble and save your settings.
Does the Baha Sound Processor help you with speech understanding?
The Baha Sound Processor helps make my speech understanding a lot better. It’s hard to describe, but it helps me focus more on what is being said. It really was life changing for me‑‑that door opening of being able to hear everything I was missing on one side. I guess in some ways, I didn’t know what I was missing, this whole world of sound that just happens to be on the other side. The Baha Sound Processor just helps that connection kind of come through and that is really cool.
Any tips for Baha System recipients?
At gigs and rehearsals the amps can be really loud, so I use the Baha Smart App to adjust the volume to a level that’s comfortable. So, my tip would be to use the volume setting to dial it up or down. And if things are just too loud, open the battery door to turn it off. I do that all the time and when I’m done, I just turn it right back on, so it works great.
Read more of Pete’s incredible journey in his autobiography, How I Learned to Rock My Life: The Peter Dankelson Story, and in a picture book about self-acceptance, Peter’s Rockin’ Ear. Both are available from online retailers like Amazon and also at www.PetesDiary.com. Peter Dankelson’s music is streaming on all platforms.
- Battery life is dependent on streaming, sound environments and gain setting.
- The Cochlear Baha 5 Smart App is available on App Store and Google Play. For compatibility information visit www.cochlear.com/compatibility
- Baha 6 Max offers a 43% wider frequency bandwidth than the previous generation sound processor, which is designed to improve understanding in quiet and noisy situations.