Your hearing is your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So safeguarding their hearing should be a high priority for all musicians. But generally speaking, that’s not the situation. Many musicians just accept loss of hearing. The existing mindset appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.
But some new legal legislations and a concerted effort to confront that culture finally appear to be changing that mindset. Injury to the ears, injury that unavoidably causes loss of hearing, should never be “part of the job”. When there are proven methods to safeguard the hearing, that’s particularly true.
When You’re in a Loud Surrounding, Protect Your Ears
Obviously, 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, such as manufacturing and construction, have been faster to adopt basic levels of ear protection.
There are most likely a number of reasons for this:
- In many artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel fortunate just to be given a chance, that no matter how roughly you’re treated, there’s somebody who would be willing to be in your position. So many musicians simply cope with inadequate hearing protection.
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well when performing, even when they’re playing the same music every day. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it might interfere with one’s ability to hear. This resistance is typically based on false information, it should be mentioned.
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with risk (hard hat required, or so the saying goes). So construction laborers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.
Sadly, this mindset that “it’s just part of the job” has an influence on more than just musicians. Others who are working in the music industry, from roadies to bartenders, are implicitly expected to subscribe to what is essentially a very damaging mindset.
Norms Are Changing
There are two major reasons that this is transforming, fortunately. The first is a milestone legal ruling against the Royal Opera House in London. A viola player, during a concert, was subjected to 130dB of sound when she was seated immediately in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
In the majority of cases, if you had to be exposed to that amount of noise, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced extreme hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long battles with tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and ruled in favor of the viola player, they sent a message that the music industry was no longer exempt from workplace hearing protection guidelines, and that the music industry should invest in hearing protection for all contractors and employees and should stop considering itself a special case.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Need to be Unavoidable For Musicians
In the music industry the number of those who suffer from tinnitus is staggeringly 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 hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. The more acoustic shock that someone experiences, the higher the chance that damage will become irreversible.
Using current hearing protection devices, including specially manufactured earplugs and earmuffs, can help protect hearing without decreasing the musical abilities of anyone. Your ears will be protected without reducing the quality of sound.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Business
The correct hearing protection hardware is ready and available. Changing the culture in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This endeavor, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already showing success (The industry is getting an eye opener with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
In the industry, tinnitus is especially common. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. It doesn’t make a difference what your job is, loss of hearing shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.
Do you play music professionally? If you don’t want your performance to be impacted, ask us how to protect your ears.