Your hearing is your most important instrument if you are a professional musician. So protecting their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. Curiously, that’s not the case. Instead, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism regarding hearing in the industry. They believe loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
But some new legal rulings and a focused effort to confront that culture finally appear to be transforming that mindset. It shouldn’t ever be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. That’s especially true when there are established methods and means to protect your hearing without eroding your performance.
Safeguarding Your Hearing in a Noisy Setting
Professional musicians, obviously, are not the only individuals to work in a potentially loud surrounding. Nor are they the only class of professionals who have formulated a fatalistic perspective to the damage as a consequence of loud noise. But other occupations, such as construction or manufacturing, have been quicker to undertake practical levels of ear protection.
There are probably a number of reasons for this:
- A manufacturing and construction environment is replete with risk (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.
- In countless artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel lucky just to have an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone who would be excited to take your place. So many musicians simply cope with poor hearing protection.
- Even if a musician is playing the same material night after night, they have to be able to hear quite well. If it seems as if it might hamper hearing, there can be some opposition to using hearing protection. This resistance is typically rooted in false information, it should be mentioned.
This “part of the job” mindset influences more than just the musicians, sadly. There’s an implicit expectation that others who are working in the music business like roadies and bartenders go along with this unsafe mentality.
Norms Are Changing
Thankfully, that’s changing for two major reasons. A milestone legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was subjected to 130dB of noise when she was placed right in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-blown jet engine!
Hearing protection needs to always be available when someone is going to be subjected to that much noise. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced serious hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that included long battles with tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and ruled for the viola player, they delivered a message that the music industry was no longer immune from workplace hearing protection requirements, and that the industry should not think of itself as a special case and instead commit to appropriate hearing protection for all employees and contractors concerned.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Loss of hearing
In the music business the number of those who have tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
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 tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. The more acoustic shock that’s experienced, the higher the probability that damage will become irreparable.
You can be protected without diminishing musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specifically created for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be safeguarded without compromising sound quality.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Industry
You can get the correct hearing protection right now. 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 success (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely provided some urgency for the industry to get in line).
In the industry, tinnitus is very common. But it doesn’t need to be. Hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” no matter what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? If you don’t want to miss a beat, ask us how to safeguard your ears.