Hearing Health Blog

Musician on stage performing with hearing protection to protect against tinnitus and hearing loss.

Your hearing is your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be quite protective of their hearing. Oddly, that’s not the case. In fact, there’s a pervading culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the industry. They believe that hearing loss is just “part of the job”.

That mindset, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal rulings and concerted public safety efforts. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. That’s particularly true when there are proven ways and means to safeguard your ears without hampering your performance.

When You Are in a Noisy Environment, Safeguard Your Hearing

Professional musicians, of course, are not the only people to work in a potentially loud surrounding. And many other workers undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing problems caused by loud noise. But basic levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly adopted by other professions like manufacturing and construction.

more than likely this has a couple of reasons:

  • The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing environments have a lot of hazards. 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 usually a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be glad to be in your place. So many musicians might not want to make waves or complain about inadequate hearing protection.
  • Even if a musician is playing the same material night after night, they have to be capable of hearing very well. If it seems like it will hinder the ability to hear, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. It should also be noted, this resistance is normally due to false information.

Unfortunately, this outlook that “it’s just part of the job” has an impact on others besides just musicians. Others who are working in the music business, from roadies to producers, are implicitly expected to buy into what is ultimately an extremely damaging mindset.

Norms Are Changing

Fortunately, that’s transforming for two major reasons. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. During a certain concert, a viola player was sitting right in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly comparable to a full-blown jet engine!

Hearing protection should always be provided when someone is going to be exposed to that volume of sound. But the viola player experienced long bouts of tinnitus and general hearing loss because she wasn’t given hearing protection.

When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and ruled for the viola player, they sent a message that the music industry would no longer be exempt from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the music industry should invest in hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should not think of itself a special circumstance.

A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss

The number of those in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is mindblowingly 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 escalating chance of suffering irreparable injury the more acoustic shock a person withstands.

You can be protected without diminishing musical abilities by using earplugs that are specifically created for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.

Transforming The Attitude in The Music Industry

The ideal hearing protection hardware is available and ready. Changing the culture in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a big undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently displaying some success. (The industry is getting an eye opener with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).

Tinnitus is incredibly common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.

Are you a musician? Ask us how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.

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