Your hearing is your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their ears should be a high priority for all musicians. Oddly, that isn’t the situation. In fact, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the industry. The predominant attitude seems to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by some new legal rulings and focused public safety campaigns. Injury to the ears, injury that inescapably leads to hearing loss, shouldn’t ever be “part of the job”. When there are proven methods to safeguard the hearing, that’s especially true.
When You Are in a Loud Surrounding, Safeguard Your Hearing
Of course, musicians aren’t the only individuals who are subjected to a noisy workplace setting. And many other workers certainly have also developed a fatalistic perspective to hearing problems brought on by loud noise. But other professions, like construction or manufacturing, have been quicker to adopt practical levels of hearing protection.
There are most likely a few reasons for this:
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well while performing, even when they’re playing the same music regularly. If it seems like it will hinder hearing, there can be some opposition to using hearing protection. This resistance is typically rooted in misinformation, it should be mentioned.
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- However 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 many musicians simply cope with poor hearing protection.
This “part of the job” culture influences more than just the musicians, unfortunately. There’s an implied expectation that other people who work in the music business like roadies and security go along with this unsafe mindset.
There are two reasons that this is changing, fortunately. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. While in a particular concert, a viola player was sitting directly in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of noise. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
In most cases, if you were going to be exposed to that amount of noise, you would be given hearing protection. But the viola player suffered with 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 ruled for the viola player, it was a definite signal that the music industry would have to take hearing protection laws seriously, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.
Loss of Hearing Shouldn’t be a Musician’s Fate
The number of those in the music industry who have tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
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. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the likelihood that damage will become irreparable.
Utilizing contemporary hearing protection devices, including specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect hearing without limiting the musical capabilities of anybody. You’ll still be capable of hearing what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.
Transforming The Music Attitude
The correct hearing protection equipment is ready and available. At this point, safeguarding the hearing of musicians is more about changing the culture within the music and entertainment community. This undertaking, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already showing results (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is extremely common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. Loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to protect your hearing without hurting your performance.