Your hearing is your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. But generally speaking, that’s not the case. Most musicians just accept hearing loss. The prevailing attitude appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal rulings and concerted public safety campaigns. It shouldn’t ever be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. That’s especially true when there are proven ways and means to safeguard your ears without hampering your performance.
When You’re in a Noisy Environment, Protect Your Hearing
Of course, musicians are not the only people who are exposed to a loud workplace setting. Nor are they the only group of professionals who have developed a fatalistic approach to the harm as a consequence of loud noise. But other professions, such as construction or manufacturing, have been faster to adopt basic levels of ear protection.
most likely this has a couple of reasons:
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Regardless of how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be pleased to be in your position. So many musicians may not want to make waves or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well when performing, even when they’re performing the same material regularly. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as if it may impede one’s ability to hear. It should also be noted, this resistance is normally due to misinformation.
Unfortunately, this mentality that “it’s just part of the job” has an impact on more than just musicians. There’s an implied expectation that others who work in the music business such as crew members and bartenders go along with this harmful mindset.
Norms Are Changing
There are two big reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. A milestone case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was exposed to 130dB of sound when she was seated right in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be subjected to that volume of sound. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player suffered severe hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long battles with tinnitus.
When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and ruled in favor of the viola player, they sent a signal that the music industry would no longer be exempt from workplace hearing protection regulations, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as a special circumstance and instead commit to appropriate hearing protection for all employees and contractors concerned.
Loss of Hearing Shouldn’t be The Fate of a Musician
In the music industry the number of people who are afflicted by tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s 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 loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an increasing chance of having permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person endures.
Using modern hearing protection devices, such as specially designed earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without compromising the musical abilities of anyone. Your hearing will be protected without compromising the quality of sound.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Industry
You can take advantage of the ideal 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 huge task, but it’s one that’s already displaying some results. (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has certainly provided some urgency for the industry to get in line).
Tinnitus is extremely common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” no matter what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? Ask us how to safeguard your hearing without missing a beat.