Loss of Hearing Isn’t a Given For Musicians

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

If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your living. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for all musicians. Oddly, that isn’t the case. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. They believe hearing loss is just “part of the job”.

That attitude, however, is beginning to be challenged by various new legal rulings and concerted public safety efforts. Damage to the ears, damage that inescapably causes hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. When there are established ways to safeguard the ears, that’s especially true.

When You’re in a Noisy Surrounding, Safeguard Your Hearing

Obviously, musicians aren’t the only individuals who are exposed to a noisy workplace setting. Nor are they the only class of professionals who have formulated a fatalistic perspective to the harm caused by loud noise. But other professions, such as manufacturing and construction, have been faster to adopt basic levels of ear protection.

There are most likely a few reasons for this:

  • In countless artistic fields, there’s a sense that you should feel lucky just to be given an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be happy to take your place. So many musicians simply deal with inadequate hearing protection.
  • Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well while performing, even when they’re performing the same music every day. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it may affect one’s hearing ability. It should also be noted, this resistance is commonly due to false information.
  • The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing environments have a lot of hazards. So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.

Regrettably, this mindset that “it’s just part of the job” has an affect on more than just musicians. Others who work in the music business, from roadies to producers, are implicitly supposed to subscribe to what is essentially a very damaging mentality.

Changing Norms

Thankfully, that’s transforming for two significant reasons. A milestone case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. During a certain performance, a viola player was sitting directly in front of the brass section and subjected to over 130dB of noise. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!

In the majority of cases, if you had to be subjected to that amount of noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced severe hearing damage because of that lack of protection, damage that included long battles with tinnitus.

When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a definite signal 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 Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate

In the music business the number of people who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to raise awareness worldwide.

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 permanent injury the more acoustic shock a person withstands.

You can be protected without inhibiting musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specifically designed for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. Your ears will be protected without diminishing sound quality.

Transforming The Music Attitude

You can take advantage of the correct hearing protection right now. Changing the culture in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This endeavor, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing success (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).

In the industry, tinnitus is especially common. But it doesn’t have to be. Loss of hearing should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.

Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.

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