Your ears are 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 way it is. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. They think hearing loss is just “part of the job”.
But certain new legal rulings and a concerted effort to challenge that culture finally seem to be changing that attitude. Damage to the ears, damage that inevitably causes hearing loss, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. That’s particularly true when there are proven methods and means to protect your hearing without hampering your performance.
When You’re in a Loud Surrounding, Protect Your Hearing
Of course, musicians are not the only people who are exposed to a noisy workplace environment. Nor are they the only group of professionals who have developed a fatalistic approach to the injury caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly adopted by other occupations such as manufacturing and construction.
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 be able to hear rather well when performing, even when they’re playing the same material every day. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as if it might impede one’s hearing ability. This resistance is typically rooted in false information, it should be mentioned.
- In many artistic industries, there’s a sense that you should feel fortunate just to have an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone else who would be happy to take your place. So many musicians just quietly deal with inadequate hearing protection.
Unfortunately, this mindset that “it’s just part of the job” has an affect on others besides just musicians. There’s an implicit expectation that others who work in the music business like crew members and producers go along with this unsafe mindset.
There are two reasons that this is changing, fortunately. The first is a landmark case against the Royal Opera House in London. While in a certain concert, a viola player was seated immediately in front of the brass section and subjected to over 130dB of noise. That’s roughly equivalent to a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection should always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that much noise. But that wasn’t the case, and the viola player experienced serious hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that included long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and handed down a ruling for the viola player, it was a very clear signal that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry needs to commit to hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should stop considering itself a special case.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Unavoidable For Musicians
In the music industry the number of individuals who have tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to raise awareness around the world.
Everyone from wedding DJs to classical music performers to rock stars and their roadies 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 irreparable damage the more acoustic shock a person sustains.
You can be protected without decreasing musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specially designed for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be capable of hearing what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.
Transforming The Music Culture
You can get the right hearing protection right now. At this point, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about transforming the culture within the music and entertainment community. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s already showing some results. (The industry is getting a reality check with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is extremely common. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t matter what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Do you play music professionally? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to protect your ears.