Hearing Health Blog

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. Their songs bring us so much happiness. But music is so much more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing risk. The musicians themselves are at an even greater risk of hearing damage since they are exposed to loud music nearly every day.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, preserving their hearing is the key to a long and successful career. For the rest of us, hearing protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Oftentimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

If you ask the majority of individuals if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

But what about music? People might not be so quick to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: That can also be very loud music! Your ears can even be harmed by classical music which can get to fairly loud volumes.

Sounds louder than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for instance. A leaf blower is around this noisy. To put that into context, the European Union regulations stipulate that any work environment noisier than 85 dB calls for the use of hearing protection.

And if you’re working with music day in and day out, constant exposure to that kind of volume, particularly without hearing protection, can seriously damage your hearing over time.

Can you protect your ears from noise damage?

Okay, now you know that musicians need to protect their hearing (particularly if they want to continue rocking out for years to come). So how can musicians continue to enjoy their music while also protecting their hearing?

Well, here are a couple of simple things musicians can do:

  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will often benefit from rest. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. By doing this, noises won’t overpower and damage your ears. Duration is almost as important as volume when it comes to hearing health. The difference between the ideal amount of stimulation and too much can come down to taking frequent breaks.
  • Track your volume: Everybody remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So knowing volume levels of noises around you will help you protect your hearing. Monitoring the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also purchase a volume meter app for your cellphone to make it easy to track the real-world volume levels your ears are experiencing day in and day out. You will need to make some changes if the meter consistently detects volumes above 85 dB.

Ear protection is important

Of course, the single most beneficial thing you can do to safeguard your ears is simple: using ear protection of some kind. Many musicians are hesitant to use ear protection because they’re worried it will effect the quality of sound they hear, in addition to muting the volume. That’s not always the case, depending on which kind of ear protection you choose.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very well known to most individuals. They’re fairly good at blocking a lot of sound although they sometimes don’t fit comfortably. They’re not hard to get, don’t cost much, and can be disposed of easily. For musicians, they aren’t a great solution. However, by spending just a little more money, you can buy high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. These earplugs use modern manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very distinct materials and are designed to conform nicely to the ear) to preserve audio clarity while decreasing the noise you hear by something like 20dB. For musicians who need a moderate amount of protection on a budget, this option is perfect.
  • Electronic earplugs: Electronic earplugs work in pretty much the same way as high-quality, non-electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For people who work in very loud environments and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. A device, called an in-ear-monitor, is put in your ear and transmits signals in electronically. It’s like a special little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a rather tight fit and specialized design). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the ideal answer.

Safeguard your career by protecting your hearing

It’s never too late to take measures to protect your ears, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin sooner rather than later. With options available at just about every price point, there are simple ways for everybody to protect their hearing and their future. Keep in mind, ear protection for a musician is an investment in your career. It’s one way to be certain you’ll be making incredible music for years (maybe even decades) to come!

Don’t really know where to start? Give us a call today, we can help!

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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