Should Musicians Use Ear Protection?

Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians are awesome! Their shows bring us so much enjoyment. The downside is that music is almost always loud, in fact, many people prefer it that way. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music frequently, their hearing is at greater risk of being harmed.

As you get older, you’ll still want to be able to enjoy your favorite music whether you’re a musician or not. For musicians, preserving their hearing is the key to a long and successful career. For the rest of us, ear protection is the secret to a lifetime of musical fulfillment and enrichment.

Music is surprisingly loud

Most people would say that a jet engine is really loud.

But what about music? People may not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: That can also be very loud music! Even classical music can reach fairly high volumes that can easily harm your hearing.

Sounds higher than 90 dB can be created by a violin, for example. A leaf blower is around this loud. In Europe, for instance, they have regulations that require ear protection for anybody who works in a work environment where there is noise above 85 dB.

And if you’re working with music on a daily basis, constant exposure to that sort of volume, particularly without ear protection, can seriously damage your hearing over time.

How can you safeguard your hearing?

Okay, musicians who want to preserve their hearing for years to come need to safeguard their ears. So what can musicians do to safeguard their ears and still take pleasure in the music they enjoy so much?

Here are a couple of strategies:

  • Track your volume: Everybody remembers the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of sounds around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Usually, this is as simple as monitoring your volume settings on amps and receivers. But you can also invest in a volume meter app for your smartphone to make it convenient to monitor the real-world volume levels your ears are encountering from day-to-day. You will need to make a few changes if the meter consistently reads above 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Much like any part of your body, your ears can become fatigued and may need a little break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. In this way, noises won’t overpower and damage your ears. With regard to hearing, how long you’re exposed is almost as significant as how loud it is. Taking breaks can be the difference between just the right amount of stimulation and too much!

Ear protection is important

Using ear protection is the single most effective way to protect your hearing. A lot of musicians are concerned that hearing protection will mute the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that might not always be accurate.

  • Ear plugs made primarily for musicians: Disposable earplugs are something that’s likely very well known to most people. They’re fairly good at blocking a lot of sound though they sometimes don’t fit very well. They’re not hard to find, don’t cost much, and can be thrown away easily. And they aren’t ideal for musicians. However, by paying a little more, you can purchase high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. A specialized material and modern engineering are used to help these earplugs fit comfortably in the ear and decrease external noise by about 20% while preserving the audio fidelity. This option is perfect for musicians who need a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a lot of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to lose them).
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The earplug itself will block out the majority of the sound. But the earplug itself will send in the sound you hear. This solution is perfect for those who work in particularly noisy settings, and who are looking for more options when it comes to volume control.
  • In-ear monitors: Electronics are a major part of modern music. A device, known as an in-ear-monitor, is put in your ear and sends signals in electronically. It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and most monitors can block out sound from the outside world (thanks to a rather tight fit and special design). So you control the volume level and are able to hear sound accurately and clearly. In-ear monitors are practical for people who work primarily with electronically amplified instruments.

Safeguard your ears, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take steps to safeguard your ears, but it’s definitely a good idea to begin sooner rather than later. With solutions available at nearly every price point, there are simple ways for everybody to protect their hearing and their future. Remember that you’re investing in your career by utilizing hearing protection for musicians. It’s one way to ensure you’ll be making amazing music for many years (maybe even decades) to come!

Give us a call so we can help you get started.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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