If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your livelihood. So you’d think musicians would be rather protective of their hearing. Strangely, that’s not the situation. Many musicians just accept hearing loss. They believe hearing loss is just “part of the job”.
That mindset, however, is beginning to be challenged by some new legal rulings and concerted public safety efforts. Injury to the ears, damage that unavoidably results in loss of hearing, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. When there are established ways to protect the ears, that’s particularly true.
Protecting Your Hearing in a Noisy Environment
Professional musicians, of course, are not the only people to work in a potentially loud surrounding. Nor are they the only group of workers who have formulated a fatalistic approach to the damage caused by loud noise. But other professions, like construction or manufacturing, have been faster to embrace practical levels of ear protection.
There are probably a number of reasons for this:
- However harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s normally a feeling that you’re fortunate and that someone would be happy to be in your place. So many musicians just quietly deal with inadequate hearing protection.
- A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
- Even if a musician is performing the same music night after night, they have to be capable of hearing quite well. If it seems like it might hinder the ability to hear, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. This resistance is usually rooted in misinformation, it should be mentioned.
This “part of the job” mindset influences more than just the musicians, unfortunately. There’s an implied expectation that other people who work in the music industry such as crew members and bartenders go along with this harmful mindset.
There are two major reasons that this is transforming, fortunately. A milestone legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. While in a certain concert, a viola player was sitting immediately in front of the brass section and subjected to over 130dB of noise. 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 volume of sound. But the viola player suffered with long bouts of tinnitus and overall loss of hearing because she wasn’t provided hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and ruled for the viola player, they sent a signal that the music industry would no longer be 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 every employee and contractor involved.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss
The number of those in the music business who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to boost awareness around the world.
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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. There is an increasing chance of having permanent damage the more acoustic shock a person endures.
Utilizing current hearing protection devices, including specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect hearing without diminishing the musical capabilities of anyone. Your hearing will be safeguarded without compromising the quality of sound.
Changing The Attitude in The Music Industry
The correct hearing protection equipment is ready and available. Changing the culture in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This task, though it’s a difficult one, is one that’s already showing results (The industry is getting a reality check with the judgment against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is very common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be the way it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, hearing loss should never be “just part of the job”.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.