If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your livelihood. So it seems as if musicians would be quite protective of their ears. But in general, that’s not the case. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. The predominant attitude appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But some new legal legislations and a focused effort to challenge that culture finally appear to be changing that attitude. Damage to the ears, injury that unavoidably causes loss of hearing, should never be “part of the job”. That’s especially true when there are proven ways and means to safeguard your ears without hampering your performance.
Protecting Your Hearing in a Loud Setting
Obviously, musicians aren’t the only individuals who are exposed to a loud workplace setting. And some other professionals undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But practical 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:
- In many artistic fields, there’s a feeling that you should feel lucky just to be given an opportunity, that no matter how roughly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be willing to be in your position. So many musicians might not want to make waves or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Even if a musician is playing the same material every night, they have to be capable of hearing very well. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as if it might interfere with one’s hearing ability. This resistance is usually rooted in false information, it should be noted.
Sadly, this mindset that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on others besides just musicians. There’s an implied expectation that other people who are working in the music business such as roadies and producers go along with this harmful mindset.
There are two major reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. The first is a milestone case against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a concert, was subjected to 130dB of noise when she was placed right in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that volume of sound. But the viola player experienced long bouts of tinnitus and general loss of hearing because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and handed down a ruling for the viola player, it was a very clear signal that the music industry would need to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should not think of itself a special case.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
The number of those in the music business who have tinnitus is staggeringly 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 loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the probability that injury will become irreversible.
Using contemporary hearing protection devices, such as specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect hearing without compromising the musical capabilities of anybody. 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
You can take advantage of the ideal hearing protection right now. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge task, but it’s one that’s currently showing some results. (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has certainly provided some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).
Tinnitus is incredibly common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t matter what your job is, hearing loss should never be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to safeguard your ears.