Generation Grit: Hearing loss can't mute musical passion

Mr Ong Ting Kai, 29, playing the dizi or Chinese flute. He teaches music at St Gabriel's Secondary School. He is also partially deaf.
Suffering from partial hearing loss in both ears, Mr Ong Ting Kai, 29, hears only the bass line and drumbeats in a piece of music. That has not stopped him from passing on his musical passion, as a music teacher at St Gabriel's Secondary School. ST P
Suffering from partial hearing loss in both ears, Mr Ong Ting Kai, 29, hears only the bass line and drumbeats in a piece of music. That has not stopped him from passing on his musical passion, as a music teacher at St Gabriel's Secondary School. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

By 15, Ong Ting Kai was the premier dizi player of his generation in Singapore. Then everything changed.

The only music teacher at St Gabriel's Secondary School has a condition that you would think disqualifies him: he is partially deaf.

Suffering from high frequency hearing loss in his right ear and tinnitus in his left, Mr Ong Ting Kai hears only the bass line and drum beats in a piece of music.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Hearing loss can't mute musical passion'. Print Edition | Subscribe