Your hearing is your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be rather protective of their ears. Strangely, that isn’t the case. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. They believe loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
But certain new legal legislations and a concerted undertaking to confront that culture finally seem to be changing that mindset. It should never be considered to be just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. That’s particularly true when there are established methods and means to safeguard your ears without hindering your performance.
Safeguarding Your Ears in a Noisy Setting
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially noisy surrounding. Nor are they the only class of workers who have developed a fatalistic perspective to the harm as a consequence of loud noise. But other occupations, like construction or manufacturing, have been quicker to adopt practical levels of ear protection.
There are most likely a number of reasons for this:
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the construction and manufacturing environments have a lot of hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- In countless artistic industries, 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 someone who would be happy to take your place. So many musicians simply deal with poor hearing protection.
- Even if a musician is performing the same material every night, they have to be able to hear very well. If it seems as if it will hamper the ability to hear, there can be some opposition to using hearing protection. This resistance is commonly based on misinformation, it should be noted.
This “part of the job” mindset affects more than just the musicians, sadly. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music business like crew members and producers go along with this harmful mindset.
There are two reasons that this is changing, thankfully. A milestone legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. While in a certain performance, a viola player was sitting immediately in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly comparable to a full-sized jet engine!
In most cases, if you were going to be exposed to that much noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. 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 definite message that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry should invest in hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should not think of itself a special case.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss
In the music business the number of people who have tinnitus is mindblowingly 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 escalating chance of having permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person withstands.
Utilizing modern hearing protection devices, including specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect your ears without compromising the musical capabilities of anyone. Your hearing will be safeguarded without limiting the quality of sound.
Transforming The Music Culture
The right hearing protection equipment is available and ready. Changing the culture in the music industry, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently displaying some success. (the decision against the Royal Opera House has certainly provided some urgency for the industry to get in line).
Tinnitus is incredibly common in the industry. But it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t matter what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Do you play music professionally? Ask us how to safeguard your hearing without missing a beat.