Your hearing is your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. Curiously, that isn’t the situation. Many musicians just accept loss of hearing. They think hearing loss is just “part of the job”.
But certain new legal rulings and a focused undertaking to challenge that culture finally seem to be transforming that attitude. Damage to the ears, injury that unavoidably results in hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. That’s particularly true when there are proven methods and means to safeguard your ears without hindering your performance.
Protecting Your Hearing in a Noisy Environment
Of course, musicians aren’t the only individuals who are exposed to a noisy workplace environment. 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 implemented by other occupations such as construction and manufacturing.
most likely this has a couple of reasons:
- No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re fortunate and that somebody would be glad to be in your position. So some musicians might not want to make waves or complain about inadequate hearing protection.
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well when performing, even when they’re playing the same material every day. If it seems like it might impede the ability to hear, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. This resistance is usually rooted in false information, it should be noted.
- 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.
Regrettably, this attitude that “it’s just part of the job” has an effect on more than just musicians. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music industry like crew members and producers go along with this harmful mentality.
Fortunately, that’s transforming for two significant reasons. The first is a landmark legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a concert, was exposed to 130dB of noise when she was placed immediately in front of the brass section. That’s roughly comparable to a full-blown jet engine!
Hearing protection should always be provided when someone is going to be subjected to that much noise. But the viola player experienced long periods of tinnitus and general loss of hearing because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and ruled for the viola player, they delivered a signal that the music industry was no longer exempt from workplace hearing protection requirements, and that the industry should not think of itself as an exceptional case and instead commit to proper hearing protection for all employees and contractors involved.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
The number of individuals in the music industry who have tinnitus is mindblowingly 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 hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the likelihood that injury will become permanent.
You can be protected without decreasing musical capabilities by using earplugs that are specially manufactured 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 safeguarded.
Transforming The Attitude in The Music Business
You can get the ideal hearing protection right now. Changing the mindset in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This endeavor, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already demonstrating results (The industry is getting an eye opener 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. Hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to protect your ears.