Your ears are your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their hearing. Oddly, that isn’t the case. Many musicians just accept loss of hearing. The predominant mindset seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That mindset, however, is starting to be challenged by certain new legal rulings and focused public safety campaigns. Injury to the ears, damage that inescapably causes hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. That’s particularly true when there are established ways and means to protect your ears without hindering your performance.
When You Are in a Loud Surrounding, Safeguard Your Ears
Professional musicians, of course, are not the only people to work in a potentially loud surrounding. Nor are they the only group of workers who have developed a fatalistic approach to the damage as a consequence of loud noise. But other professions, such as manufacturing and construction, have been faster to adopt practical levels of ear protection.
most likely this is because of a couple of things:
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well when performing, even when they’re performing the same material regularly. If it seems like it might hamper the ability to hear, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is usually rooted in false information, it should be mentioned.
- Regardless of how severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be happy to be in your place. So some musicians might not want to make waves or whine about poor hearing protection.
Sadly, this mindset that “it’s just part of the job” has an impact on more than just musicians. Others who work in the music industry, from crew members to producers, are implicitly supposed to subscribe to what is essentially an extremely damaging mentality.
Norms Are Changing
Thankfully, that’s changing for two significant reasons. A milestone legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was exposed to 130dB of noise when she was seated directly in front of the brass section. That’s roughly equivalent to a full-blown jet engine!
Hearing protection should always be available when someone is going to be subjected to that volume of sound. But the viola player suffered with long periods of tinnitus and overall hearing loss because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling for the viola player, it was a definite signal that the music industry would need to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as a special circumstance and instead invest in appropriate hearing protection for all employees and contractors involved.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss
In the music industry the number of people who have tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
Everyone from rock star and their roadies to wedding Dj’s to classical musicians are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an escalating chance of suffering permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person endures.
You can be protected without diminishing musical abilities by wearing earplugs that are specifically created for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be protected without diminishing sound quality.
Changing The Music Culture
You can take advantage of the right hearing protection right now. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s already displaying some results. (The industry is getting a reality check with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is incredibly common in the industry. But it doesn’t need to be. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to safeguard your ears.