Your ears are your most valuable instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be quite protective of their ears. Strangely, that isn’t the situation. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. They think hearing loss is just “part of the job”.
But certain new legal legislations and a concerted undertaking to confront that culture finally seem to be transforming that mindset. Damage to the ears, damage that unavoidably results in hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. When there are proven methods to protect the hearing, that’s particularly true.
Protecting Your Ears in a Loud Environment
Of course, musicians are not the only people who are exposed to a noisy workplace environment. And some other professionals undoubtedly have also developed a fatalistic approach to hearing issues brought on by loud noise. But other professions, such as manufacturing and construction, have been faster to embrace practical levels of ear protection.
There are most likely a few reasons for this:
- Musicians need to capable of hearing rather well while performing, even when they’re performing the same material regularly. If it seems like it will hamper hearing, there can be some resistance to wearing hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is normally due to false information.
- No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s usually a feeling that you’re fortunate and that someone would be grateful to be in your place. So some musicians may not want to make waves or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
- 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.
This “part of the job” culture influences more than just the musicians, sadly. There’s an implicit expectation that others who work in the music industry like roadies and security go along with this harmful mentality.
There are two big reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. A landmark case against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was exposed to 130dB of noise when she was seated immediately in front of the brass section. That’s roughly equivalent to a full-sized jet engine!
Hearing protection should always be available when someone is going to be exposed to that volume of sound. But the viola player experienced long periods of tinnitus and overall loss of hearing because she wasn’t given hearing protection.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House at fault and ruled in favor of the viola player, they sent a signal that the music industry would no longer be immune from workplace hearing protection regulations, and that the music industry needs to commit to hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should stop considering itself a special circumstance.
A Musicians Fate Shouldn’t be Hearing Loss
The number of people in the music industry who suffer from 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 loss of hearing. There is an increasing chance of having irreparable damage the more acoustic shock a person endures.
You can be protected without decreasing musical capabilities by wearing earplugs that are specially manufactured for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be protected.
Transforming The Culture in The Music Business
You can get the ideal hearing protection right now. At this stage, 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 success (the decision against the Royal Opera House has definitely created some urgency for the industry to get in line).
Tinnitus is incredibly common in the industry. But this doesn’t have to be how it is. Hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Are you a musician? Ask us how to safeguard your hearing without missing a beat.