Your hearing is your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their ears. Strangely, that’s not the case. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. The existing attitude appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal legislations and concerted public safety campaigns. Damage to the ears, injury that inescapably leads to hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. When there are established methods to protect the ears, that’s especially true.
Safeguarding Your Hearing in a Noisy Environment
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy environment. And many other workers undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing problems brought on by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly adopted by other professions like manufacturing and construction.
There are probably a couple of reasons for this:
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- Regardless of how severely you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re lucky and that someone would be glad to be in your position. So many musicians just quietly deal with poor hearing protection.
- Musicians need to be able to hear rather well while performing, even when they’re playing the same music regularly. There can be some reluctance to hearing protection that seems as if it may interfere with one’s hearing ability. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is commonly due to misinformation.
Regrettably, this mindset that “it’s just part of the job” has an impact on more than just musicians. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music business such as crew members and producers go along with this unsafe mentality.
Thankfully, that’s changing for two big reasons. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a concert, was subjected to 130dB of sound when she was seated directly in front of the brass section. That’s roughly equivalent to a full-blown jet engine!
In most cases, if you were going to be subjected to that amount of sound, you would be given hearing protection. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player experienced severe hearing impairment because of that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts ruled against the Royal Opera House and ruled in favor of the viola player, they delivered a signal that the music industry was no longer immune from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the music industry needs to commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be The Fate of a Musician
The number of people in the music business who have tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to boost awareness worldwide.
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 increasing chance of having permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person endures.
You can be protected without limiting musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specifically manufactured for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. Your ears will be protected without decreasing the quality of sound.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Industry
You can get the correct hearing protection right now. At this point, protecting the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the mindset within the music and entertainment industry. This undertaking, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already demonstrating success (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t matter what your job is, hearing loss should never be “just part of the job”.
Do you play music professionally? Ask us how to safeguard your hearing without missing a beat.