Your hearing is your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So safeguarding their ears should be a high priority for every musician. Curiously, that isn’t the case. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. They think hearing loss is just “part of the job”.
That mindset, however, is starting to be challenged by certain new legal legislations and focused public safety efforts. It should never be considered just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. That’s particularly true when there are proven methods and means to protect your ears without hindering your performance.
Protecting Your Ears in a Loud Setting
Of course, musicians are not the only people who are subjected to a noisy workplace environment. And many other professionals certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more quickly implemented by other occupations like manufacturing and construction.
There are most likely a number of reasons for this:
- Regardless of how severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re fortunate and that someone would be pleased to be in your position. So many musicians just quietly deal with poor hearing protection.
- Even if a musician is playing the same material night after night, they have to be capable of hearing quite well. There can be some reluctance to hearing protection that seems as if it might impede one’s hearing ability. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is usually due to misinformation.
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
This “part of the job” mindset impacts more than just the musicians, unfortunately. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music industry such as roadies and security go along with this unsafe mindset.
Fortunately, that’s transforming for two big reasons. The first is a milestone legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a performance, was exposed to 130dB of noise when she was placed right in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be provided when someone is going to be subjected to that volume of sound. But the viola player suffered with long periods of tinnitus and general hearing loss because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and ruled for the viola player, it was a definite signal that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should not think of itself a special case.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss
The number of individuals in the music industry who are afflicted by tinnitus is mindblowingly 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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. There is an escalating chance of having irreparable injury the more acoustic shock a person sustains.
Utilizing modern hearing protection devices, such as specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect hearing without diminishing the musical abilities of anyone. Your hearing will be protected without inhibiting the quality of sound.
Changing The Music Attitude
You can take advantage of the ideal hearing protection right now. Changing the mindset in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s already displaying some success. (the decision against the Royal Opera House has certainly provided some urgency for the industry to get in line).
In the industry, tinnitus is extremely common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” no matter what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? Ask us how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.