If you’re a professional musician, your ears are your living. So it seems as if musicians would be rather protective of their hearing. Curiously, that isn’t the case. Many musicians just accept loss of hearing. They think loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
But certain new legal rulings and a concerted effort to confront that culture finally seem to be changing that mindset. Damage to the ears, damage that unavoidably results in hearing loss, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. When there are proven ways to safeguard the hearing, that’s particularly true.
When You Are in a Noisy Surrounding, Protect Your Hearing
Obviously, 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 issues caused by loud noise. But other occupations, such as construction or manufacturing, have been faster to embrace practical levels of hearing protection.
more than likely this is because of a couple of things:
- Even if a musician is playing the same material nightly, they have to be able to hear quite well. There can be some reluctance to hearing protection that seems as though it may impede one’s ability to hear. It should also be noted, this resistance is usually due to misinformation.
- A manufacturing and construction 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.
- No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re lucky and that somebody would be pleased to be in your place. So many musicians simply cope with inadequate hearing protection.
Unfortunately, this attitude that “it’s just part of the job” has an impact on others besides just musicians. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music industry such as roadies and bartenders go along with this harmful mentality.
Norms Are Changing
There are two major reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. The first is a landmark case against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a concert, was exposed to 130dB of sound when she was seated immediately in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection should always be available 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 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 immune from workplace hearing protection requirements, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as a special case and instead commit to proper hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
The number of those in the music industry who are afflicted by tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason why there’s a campaign to boost 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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and loss of hearing. There is an escalating chance of having irreparable injury the more acoustic shock a person sustains.
You can be protected without limiting musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specially manufactured for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be capable of hearing what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.
Transforming The Music Attitude
You can get 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. This undertaking, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already showing success (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely created some urgency for the industry to get in line).
Tinnitus is very common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. Loss of hearing should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? Ask us how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.