Your ears are your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their hearing. But in general, that’s not the case. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. The predominant attitude appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But certain new legal legislations and a focused undertaking to confront that culture finally appear to be transforming that attitude. It shouldn’t ever be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause loss of hearing. When there are established methods to protect the ears, that’s especially true.
Protecting Your Hearing in a Loud Environment
Obviously, musicians aren’t the only people who are exposed to a noisy workplace environment. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing problems caused by loud noise. But other professions, such as manufacturing and construction, have been quicker to embrace basic levels of hearing protection.
There are most likely a couple of reasons for this:
- In many artistic industries, there’s a sense that you should feel lucky just to be given a chance, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone else who would be excited to be in your position. So many musicians may not want to rock the boat or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have a lot of hazards. So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Even if a musician is playing the same music every night, they have to be capable of hearing very well. There can be some reluctance to hearing protection that seems as if it may affect one’s ability to hear. This resistance is typically based on misinformation, it should be mentioned.
Unfortunately, this mindset 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 industry such as crew members and security go along with this harmful mentality.
There are two reasons that this is changing, thankfully. The first is a landmark case against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a performance, was subjected to 130dB of noise when she was placed directly in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be provided when someone is going to be subjected to that much noise. But the viola player suffered with long bouts of tinnitus and general loss of hearing because she wasn’t given hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a definite message that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry needs to invest in hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should not think of itself a special case.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Inevitable For Musicians
The number of those in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
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 loss of hearing. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the probability that damage will become irreversible.
You can be protected without diminishing musical abilities by using earplugs that are specifically manufactured for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be protected without inhibiting sound quality.
Changing The Culture in The Music Business
You can take advantage of the right hearing protection right now. Changing the culture in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s already showing some success. (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely created some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).
In the industry, tinnitus is especially common. But it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t matter what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to protect your ears.